Searching for the sandwich supreme
Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023
The headline was “The most iconic sandwich in every state,” and — being hungry — I figured I’d see if they got it right for my state of birth and long-time residency, Mississippi.
As the Magnolia State, we’re known for great music and showing up near the bottom on the lists of whatever from most people who’ve never set foot in the state. I grew up in the northeast corner of the state, in Corinth, where the slug burger is a staple.
It’s basically soybeans, or a mix of soy and beef or pork, deep fried and served on a burger bun, dressed with mustard, onions and pickles. They’re called “slug” burgers because they cost 5 cents (a slug) during the Great Depression.
Most people are lovers or haters of this sandwich — very few fence sitters. While some places obviously do it right or wrong, my favorites come from Borroums Drug Store downtown Corinth.
When we moved to Newton County in the 1980s, we were not far from a catfish restaurant that served some great catfish po boys. My time in Hattiesburg and Petal saw me go through a lot of cheeseburgers at Burgertown and Rocket City Diner. While in New Orleans, fried oyster poboys were a favorite sandwich choice. Elsewhere in Louisiana, I added cochon de lait to my sandwich repertoire. My favorite sandwiches now tend to be good ol’ PB&J. But I still enjoy all the above.
Another favorite is a Cuban. What’s on it? Mustard and some other stuff.
So … what did this list say was Mississippi’s iconic sandwich? The shrimp po boy. While not what I expected, I don’t necessarily think Delish got it “wrong.” It’s just not “right.”
So I decided to check elsewhere.
Southern Living defines the official sandwich of Mississippi as pig ear and smokes sandwiches. Really? The editors choose the smoked pork sandwich with slaw, narrowly edging out the Corinth creation of the slug burger.
Reader’s Digest went with the slug burger. That’s two. But The Insider tied it up with another vote for the pig ear sandwich.
“Only In Your State” didn’t pick a best sandwich, but included both the slug and ear in their top 10 list for Mississippi.
EZCater threw a wrench in the tally by casting another vote for the shrimp po boy. Though they specified grilled shrimp and Delish’s vote was fried, I’m counting these as the same. TitleMax tossed in another vote for the grilled shrimp.
I’m tallying these as 3 votes for shrimp po boys (grilled or fried), 3 for slug burger and 3 for pig’s ear. That really surprised me. So I decided to look for one more vote to break the three-way tie. I went with Taste of Home, a culinary periodical. Their vote was for … (insert drumroll here) … The Elvis. The King’s sammich is peanut butter, fried banana and bacon. So it didn’t break the tie at all.
Unless you count Taste of Home’s vote for second place — the pig ear sandwich. If you do, it wins today’s online search for sandwich supremacy in this part of the South. That doesn’t mean I plan to try it anytime soon, though I wonder how I’ve lived this long as a Mississippian and never been offered one.
I bet your favorite sandwich is one of these or it isn’t. Safe bet. So I guess it’s really just personal preference, isn’t it?
I leave you with my “last meal” sandwich. If I knew I was about to die and had time to eat one more meal, and it had to be a sandwich, I’d want the following:
Two slices of whole grain wheat bread, a little bit of Cajun or Cuban mustard, a couple of slices of raw white onion, a slice of cheese and two or more thick-cut slices of a rather acidic Cherokee Purple tomato, fresh from the garden.
My mouth is watering.
While it may not be the official or most iconic sandwich of Mississippi, it certainly is in my house, on my table, on my plate.
Brett Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.