Have we all been eating our sandwiches wrong all this time?

When it comes to being a “well-mannered” person, there’s more to it than just knowing knowing the right words to say when interacting with a cashier. It’s about paying attention to the little things about the way you behave.

At least, that seems to be according to Emi Sunai, representative of Manner School Livium, a Japanese manners school for adults. It’s her job to teach people the small ways they can adjust their mannerisms to appear “well-bred”. Her best-selling book, Things Only Well-Bred People Know (Sodachi ga Ii Hito Dake ga Shitteiru Koto), for example, details 250 different ways to be polite in everyday situations.

One tip she shared in a recent appearance on the TV show The Class I Want to Take Most in the World (Sekai-ichi Uketai Jugyo) actually caused a huge stir among viewers and netizens alike. You see, in order to eat a sandwich elegantly, she said you must actually eat it sideways.

The problem with things like sandwiches, hamburgers, dorayaki, and other foods that you eat with your hands, she believes, is that when you bite into them, they’re left with a bite mark on them, which is apparently unsightly in polite circles. That, she says, is something you want to avoid if you want to look like an “elegant lady” while eating.

According to Sunai, there are two ways to avoid leaving bite marks, and thereby elegantly eat a sandwich. The first is that, instead of taking a bite out of the sandwich as a whole, you should break it into smaller, bite-size pieces. That way you won’t have to worry about leaving a bite mark in your food.

But the suggestion that caused the most stir during her TV appearance was her method of turning the sandwich sideways to eat it, instead of eating it flat. This, she said, will not only help you avoid leaving bite marks in your sandwich, but will also help prevent all of the sandwich’s ingredients from spilling out the sides as you bite down on it, allowing you to eat the sandwich most beautifully.

Now, if that sounds like absolute poppycock to you, you’re not alone. Japanese netizens were similarly confused by this weird method of eating sandwiches:

“Won’t all the sandwich ingredients just fall out that way?”
“The problem is that even if you eat sandwiches like this it still won’t make you a ‘well-bred’ person.”
“Just bite into your sandwich without uselessly wasting time thinking about the manners of it.”
“Sandwiches were invented so that you could play cards and eat at the same time, so I don’t think they’re meant to be eaten with fancy manners.”
“She’s run out of ideas so now she’s just making up stuff.”
“This weird way of eating sandwiches looks like bad manners to me so I wouldn’t do it.”
“If you’re worried about leaving bite marks, why not just use a knife and fork?”
“If I turn my Giga Big Mac sideways and bite into it, it’s still gonna have a bite mark 
and the patty is gonna fall out, so won’t that just be bad manners anyway?”

It is worth noting that Sunai specifically uses the little sandwiches that you get as part of afternoon tea as an example–you know, the kind you get on the three-layered tray. But she does add that this method could be used for hamburgers as well, so it would appear that the most “well-bred” way to eat any kind of sandwiched food is, oddly, sideways.

This concept is similar to the rules for eating rice balls set out by another manner expert, which caused a similar uproar on the Internet. It seems like the rule of thumb for “well-bred” behavior is to not let anyone see the bite marks on your food, which, short of dividing everything into tiny bite-sized morsels, sounds nigh impossible, but there we are.

That being said, I can pretty much guarantee that I have never in my life paid attention to the bite marks on someone else’s food, and since the responses from netizens indicate that many of them think eating a sandwich sideways is ridiculous, I think it’s fine if we all keep eating our sandwiches in the generally accepted away.

Source: Diamond Online via Otacom, Twitter
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3)

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