What a $179 Cheese Sandwich Can Teach Us

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Yes, a British chef is selling a cheese sandwich for more than the cost of 25 footlong subs. So what's in it? And what can we learn from it?

Last year, Britain’s Daily Mail reported that celebrity chef Martin Blunos created a unique sandwich with a menu price of £110. For Americans, based on current exchange rates, that comes to $179.40.

According to Blunos, who happens to be a Michelin-starred chef, “We Brits are known to love our cheese sandwiches, and here’s one that not only comes with a royal price tag but is fit for the banqueting table.”

I know what you’re thinking: Did he really say cheese sandwich?

I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to pay $179.40 for lunch – not counting my beer, plus tax and tip – I want something a bit more substantial than a cheese sandwich. In fact, I’d demand that my sandwich be loaded up with a couple of pounds of thinly sliced Kobe beef. I’d also want a bag of chips and a lobster tail on the side with drawn butter.

And a pickle spear.

Chef Blunos’ triple-decker vegetarian sandwich is made with a very expensive gourmet cheddar cheese infused with white truffles. In addition to the cheese, the sandwich also includes such gourmet additions as quail’s egg, pea shoots, black heirloom tomatoes, red amaranth, epicure apple, and fresh figs.

And instead of using fresh Wonder bread, Chef Blunos uses a fancy sourdough that costs $8.16 per loaf. He then dresses everything up with a little extra virgin olive oil and 100-year-old balsamic vinegar.

Voila! Add it all up and you have a $179 cheese sandwich.

Buying into the hype

Why would anyone pay $179.40 for a sandwich when you can run down the street right now and get a footlong sub for 5 bucks?

For those folks who prefer to make their own sandwiches, they can save even more. Even the most expensive sarnie in my most recent annual brown bag sandwich survey, the BLT, costs only $4.20 to make at home.

Perhaps the biggest lesson here is to observe how the makers of this overpriced sandwich successfully hype their product – after all, the British media covered it. And now I am.

Blunos’ creation is called a “luxury snack,” apparently to keep it from being associated with those more mundane sandwiches that we usually eat for lunch.

Then again, please don’t call it a sandwich. It’s actually a “gourmet dish.”

Furthermore, the sandwich (I mean gourmet dish) is not simply slapped together. It’s “hand-crafted.” Presumably with all the care and craftsmanship of a Swiss watchmaker.

What can we learn from this?

We get bombarded with this type of sales-speak every day, although the products usually aren’t quite so gaudy as this particular gastronomical creation.

It’s certainly OK to pay extra for quality. The real trick comes down to evaluating whether or not the premium paid for that better quality results in an appropriate degree of added value.

By the way, did I mention that Chef Blunos tops off his “hand-crafted masterpiece gourmet dish” with a sprinkle of edible gold dust? He does.

Who knows? With gold quickly approaching $2,000 per ounce, customers might even be able to sell their gold dust and get a small rebate on their lunch.

Oops. I mean luxury snack.

Stacy Johnson

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