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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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

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