Grilled cheese a favorite sandwich for Midwesterners, poll shows

A recent poll asking participants about how much they like — or dislike — 22 different sandwiches shows that Midwesterners have a clear favorite in the grilled cheese.

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The ‘Mac’ grilled cheese sandwich from Cheesie’s. The grilled cheese was the most liked sandwich by Midwesterners, according to the YouGov poll data.

The ‘Mac’ grilled cheese sandwich from Cheesie’s. The grilled cheese was the most liked sandwich by Midwesterners, according to the YouGov poll data.

Cheesie’s Pub & Grub

What’s the Midwest’s favorite sandwich?

A recent YouGov poll has a verdict: the grilled cheese.

It’s “the one sandwich that brings more people back to their childhood than anything else, so no other food should compare,” said Chris Johnston, founder of Cheesie’s, a late-night joint that serves grilled cheeses at its Wicker Park and Lake View locations well into the early mornings.

The grilled cheese is also a bestseller at the Fat Shallot, which whips up classic sandwiches in its food truck as well as establishments in Lincoln Park and Revival Food Hall.

While grilled cheese was the favorite in the poll with 79 percent of Midwesterners saying they liked it, grilled chicken was a close second with 75 percent.

But Sam Barron, who co-owns the Fat Shallot with his wife Sarah Weitz, says their fried buffalo chicken sandwich outsells the grilled chicken, so maybe it’s “perhaps hopeful” to called grilled chicken a favorite.

The Fat Shallot’s buffalo chicken sandwich

The Fat Shallot’s buffalo chicken sandwich, which co-owner Sam Barron says outsells the grilled chicken.

The Fat Shallot

Responding humorously to her husband, Weitz quipped, “My husband’s crazy. Who doesn’t love a grilled chicken sandwich?”

She added, “People in the Midwest want something familiar and classic.”

“Classic” indeed characterizes the other sandwiches well-liked by Midwesterners: the roast beef (71%), turkey (70%) and ham (69%).

Chicago is a “meat-and-potatoes town that goes for things tasty and tends to leave the dieting ambitions as only ambitions,” Barron said.

It’s a city with a strong sense of regional identity, which might explain why the muffuletta — a sandwich with origins in New Orleans —was least liked among Midwesterners (15%).

Also receiving little love in the poll were the cream cheese and cucumber (21%), lobster roll (25%), crab cake (28%) and Cuban (28%).

For Tempesta Market, the key is putting “a Chicago twist on” the classic Sicilian sandwich “in the best way we know how.”

For Tempesta Market, the key is putting “a Chicago twist” on the muffuletta sandwich “in the best way we know how.”

Jamie Ramsey

The muffuletta might not be as liked because it’s typically perceived as “a stack of meat and cheese with a mystifying ‘olive salad’ between two dry pieces of bread,” said Meredith Taylor, deli manager at Tempesta Market.

For Tempesta Market, a West Town delicatessen that stays true to its Italian roots, the key is adding a “Chicago twist” to the muffuletta, Taylor said.

Its muffuletta “nixes the mysterious olive dressing, adds hot giardiniera aioli, Santa Anna’s to-die-for marinated eggplant and piles of our handcrafted, locally made salami,” she explained.

“In a slow-rolling Midwestern city,” Taylor continued, Tempesta’s muffuletta is “a little fire under the feet of sandwich lovers all over Chicagoland.”

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

The poll also asked whether hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos and Sloppy Joes should be considered sandwiches.

Thirty-four percent responded that hot dogs should indeed “be considered a sandwich.”

Superdawg, the iconic drive-in specializing in Chicago-style hot dogs, had a few words to say.

“Our official stance in this contentious debate,” Laura Ustick said cheekily, “is that hot dogs are not sandwiches.”

“They are their very own category, and even have their own emoji!”

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