A burrito is not a sandwich.
That's the ruling of a Massachusetts judge in a food fight between Panera Bread Co. and Qdoba Mexican Grill. Panera wanted to block its landlord from leasing space to Qdoba, citing an exclusivity clause in its lease which prevented the landlord from leasing to another sandwich shop.
The court relied on testimony from a Cambridge, Mass., chef, a former high-ranking USDA official, and Webster's Third New International Dictionary.
"I know of no chef or culinary historian who would call a burrito a sandwich," Chris Schlesinger, the chef, said in his affidavit. "Indeed, the notion would be absurd to any credible chef or culinary historian."
The court cited Webster's definition of a sandwich and explained that the difference comes down to two slices of bread versus one tortilla: "A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans," he wrote.
Schlesinger explained that a sandwich is of "European roots" and generally recognized as "two pieces of leavened bread," while a burrito is "specific to Mexico and typically contains hot ingredients rolled into a flat unleavened tortilla."
Judith A. Quick, a former deputy director of the Standards and Labeling Division at the US Department of Agriculture, said in her affidavit: "The USDA views a sandwich as a separate and distinct food product from a burrito or taco."