Monday smile – When is a sandwich not a sandwich?

5407608590_3a59564477_z…when it’s a burrito, according to the Superior Court in Massachusetts in 2006.

The Panera Bread Co. bakery held that a burrito was a sandwich, availing itself of a clause in its lease to prevent a shopping mall from renting premises to another sandwich shop (the Qdoba Mexican Grill).

However Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke cited Webster’s Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba’s burritos were not sandwiches. Panera argued for a broad definition of a sandwich, saying that a flour tortilla is bread and that a food product with bread and a filling is a sandwich.

* * *

More recently, a New York State Tax Bulletin issued in April 2011 stated that for the purposes of sandwich tax (?!), burritos are “considered a sandwich”. See the Bulletin here for a whole host of “taxable sandwiches” – no really – I promise 🙂

* * *

Apart from the fun here, an interesting aspect from a legal linguistic point of view is that the judge consulted a dictionary in coming to his decision (see here for more), as well as the alternative ways in which words were interpreted.


Credit: Thanks to Cath Cellier-Smart @Smart_Translate for pointing the Panera case out to me. 

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.