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The meat in the sandwich

Posted by Pamela on April 04, 2008 at 00:12:

In Reply to: The meat in the sandwich posted by RRC on April 03, 2008 at 21:43:

: : : : : : : : : : : : : Someone being "the meat in the sandwich". What does that mean?

: : : : : : : : : : : : Just guessing -- a person of substance?

: : : : : : : : : : : In the world of depraved humor, being the meat in the sandwich is often thought of as a good thing, one of the best-known cases of which was Lucky Pierre. But please don't ask me to explain, other than that there was Pierre, in the middle between two babes.
: : : : : : : : : : : SS

: : : : : : : : : : Oh, my.

: : : : : : : : : In the version I heard, Pierre was between two men. ~rb

: : : : : : : : And I thought it just meant "Where's the beef?" I need to get out more. Or maybe I don't.

: : : : : : : There's an old and rather rude joke, told mostly by adolescent boys, in which Pierre finds himself successively in the middle in different situations, each of them evoking the phrase, "Lucky Pierre, always in the middle." The joke is similar in structure to the one in which the catch-phrase is "And there I stood with my piccolo!"

: : : : : : : However, I can imagine that there might be numerous situations suggestive of a human sandwich, some serious, some humorous, and some pretty gruesome.
: : : : : : : SS

: : : : : : If we have gotten all the "amusing" sexual innuendo quite out of the way...?
: : : : : : When used in reference to other things than menage a trois, "the meat of the sandwich" is the heart of the matter, the most important part, the defining ingredient, etc. The bread may be nice, but it's not a ham sandwich without ham, but it's still a ham sandwich whether it's on wheat, rye, or pumpernickel. A person could be this kind of meat in the sandwich in a team or work situation, e.g. the driver is the meat in the sandwich of a car racing team.

: : : : : In England, it's quite common for a girl with one older and one younger brother, or a boy with one older and one younger sister, to describe her/himself as "the meat in the sandwich", implying that s/he is the best, most valuable constituent of the trio, with no kind of innuendo. (VSD)

: : : : The only use I have ever heard of "the meat in the sandwich" is when a person is stuck between two opposing forces. Example:

: : : : Headline: Spotless staff prepare to strike over pay dispute, The Daily Post, 01.04.2008, By MATTHEW MARTIN
: : : : Rotorua Hospital cleaners, orderlies and kitchen staff are set to strike over failed pay talks... They are caught up in a national pay wrangle with employer Spotless Services Ltd which is yet to pay workers a wage increase promised last May. Spotless says it can't pay the increase as it is yet to receive its full funding allocation from the country's District Health Boards... Rotorua Hospital cleaner and SFWU member Inez Galvin said workers felt like "the meat in the sandwich".
: : : : "...It seems the hospital and Spotless are arguing about it now and in the meantime we get nothing," she said.

: : : : This "stuck between a rock and a hard place" definition seems to be the common one, judging by google. I had never heard the "best quality" meaning, although it makes sense (sort of like "He's the meat in the pie" to imply that whoever else is just pastry). This may be a British/Australian difference? As for Lucky Pierre, I have never heard of him, but even if I did I woudln't assocaite the term "meat in the sandwich" with the sexual position "sandwich". Pamela

: : : Since you've read all 14,300 Google hits to come to your conclusion, perhaps you'll explain this from the first page of hits... "coloured gemstones can't put the meat in the sandwich" in terms of opposing forces. (^_^)

: :
: : I said "common" not "universal". I was looking in news items, so it could be the case that Australian and New Zealand journalists use it incorrectly, or, as I said, maybe it's regional. Pamela

: (I'm just giving you a hard time for over-stating yourself...)Yes, but... you said "The only use I have ever heard". If it's not universal you must have heard of another one - no matter how you searched. (^_^)-

: I do see hits that use your version, but I don't understand quite how it came about unless the bread down under is tough stuff indeed, i.e how did "between two slices of bread" become roughly equivalent to "between a rock and a hard place" or "between Scylla and Charybdis" (two sea monsters (or a rock and a whirlpool)).

OK, it's the only use I've ever heard, and when I looked on google the first two hits were
"be the meat in the sandwich (British & Australian): to be in a difficult situation because you are the friend of two people who are arguing. I grew up with my parents continually yelling at each other so I was the meat in the sandwich."
And : "The meat in the sandwich is a common and socially acceptable term meaning a person who is in the middle of two opposing forces. Being the meat in the sandwich is often a dangerous place to be, as the meat is invariably chewed up and swallowed." (

Given this, I glibly continued to find a newspaper use, since it's a common enough cliche here. And then overstated.

Re why it would mean this, the explanation on (that being the meat is "dangerous", since it is swallowed) doesn't make any sense to me. After all, most people don't discard the bread. To the extent I though about it, I was assuming that the meaning arose because the meat is pressed into place by the two slices of bread. It's not the quality of the filling or the hardness of the bread that matters - it's the position of the meat. In the Australian Oxford Concise "sandwich" has as one meaning "Put (a thing,statement etc) between two of another character" and also "squeeze in between others (sat sandwiched in the middle)". It then mentions sandwich boards as well. It does not mention Lucky Pierre, but there is that.

The other meaning - meat is the quality part of the sandwich - makes perfect sense as well. So maybe one came before the other and it was widely misunderstood and came to have both meanings? Pamela