The tomato sandwich is a veritable summertime classic, but experts are split on ingredients

You say, “tomato,” I say, “It’s not that simple.”

Summer means muggy days, nights at the swimming pool and, for those who love them, lunches comprised solely of tomato sandwiches.

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To be clear, that’s the tomato sandwich. Not the bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich. Not the peanut butter-and-tomato sandwich (yes, that’s a thing). A sandwich starring the tomato in a solo act.

According to Virginia Willis of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization that, “documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South,” tomatoes originated in South America, and by 1781 were cultivated in the U.S.

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These nightshades (the classification of flowering plants to which tomatoes belong) were in New Orleans as early as 1812, where the Southern summers provided the ideal hot and humid growing conditions. Today, many varieties of tomatoes are grown nationwide and tomato sandwiches are a veritable summertime classic.

You might think the love of a tomato sandwich would unite food lovers over one of life’s simple pleasures.

You would be wrong.

Tomato sandwiches are hotly debated year after year, and every aspect of their construction is picked apart from the bread on up.

In fact, food writer and editor Kathleen Purvis’ 2009 Charlotte Observer article on the tomato sandwich garnered, “the most number of comments I’ve had to report for abuse.”

Purvis tells Mashable people are dogmatic about their tomato sandwiches in part because anyone who makes your favorite sandwich differently than you do, “violates the Mama Rule: The only right way was Mama’s way.”

It’s easy to agree with food writer and editor Kat Kinsman that your sandwich’s tomatoes should ideally come straight from a farmer or off your neighbor’s vine without ever having known the chill of your refrigerator. Many (if not all) tomato sandwich lovers side with renowned gardener John Coykendall, who recommends, “old, cheap white bread.”

However, that’s where the harmony ends. Tomato sandwich addicts nearly come to blows about condiments and additional ingredients.

Purists tend to favor mayonnaise, salt and pepper as the only additions.

The proper type of mayonnaise is far from widely accepted. Duke’s (a regional mayonnaise brand) is the popular choice for many Southerners.

Seriously, is there anything better? #dukesmayonnaise #dukesmayo #tomatosandwich

A photo posted by Lynn Donihe (@willowpinestudio) on Jul 26, 2016 at 8:32am PDT

There is a Hellman’s contingency.

Even Miracle Whip, with its tangy sweetness, has fans.

Sandwich renegades add herbs, bacon and even peanut butter to the mix.

If you don’t like mayonnaise, (and yes, mayonnaise, you have haters) you aren’t alone in your mayo-free sandwich endeavors:

Such emphatic beliefs about something as seemingly benign as a sandwich lie more than tastebud deep. The humble tomato sandwich touches a universal, primal heartstring that speaks to nostalgia, tradition and even the future.

Purvis says, “In a world that’s overwhelmed with big things, small things are the only things that we feel can control. It’s easier to go to the mattresses over bacon on a tomato sandwich than to confront global terrorism and childhood hunger. “

In times of uncertainty and trauma, it is comforting to depend on something you know is reliable, deeply personal and above all, delicious.

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/07/28/tomato-sandwich/