Guilty pleasure vs functional design, or why you should think about the goal of your “panino” before launching a format.
By Emeline Dany
Have you ever thought what is a sandwich and its use?
The sandwich is probably THE food format that you can find everywhere in the world and one of the best examples of food design. When you tackle the topic of food design, you learn that the product must be functional. A panino in its essence is functional: you have a container, often 2 slices of bread, containing a food that would be difficult to eat without a fork and a knife.
The panino is:
. prehensile (you can eat it without cutlery, and can be held by your hands)
. portable (you can bring it with you everywhere)
. fresh and fast of execution (made at the moment)
. balanced: often a base of carbs (bread), proteins (meat, fish or cheese) and vitamins (vegetables)
. and last but not least, customizable (based on your personal tastes)
Most of the time, people will have a sandwich on the go, for a quick lunch, when they don’t have that much time, and want maybe a “light” meal.
The beauty of the sandwich is that the combinations are infinite: typology of bread, ingredients pairing, sauces, size, shape...
The sandwich is also international.
But, as the combinations are infinite and international, over the years, a lot of panino makers decided to develop their own range, going out of the traditional tracks. And this creativity came with recipes always tastier and more generous.
The panino is as well a food that you eat, using your hand.
Using your hand increase the pleasure of eating.
Have you ever tried to eat a pizza with your hands vs. a fork and a knife? When you get the opportunity to lick your fingers, the panino is much more pleasant.
And here comes the long series of sandwiches illustrated with the #foodporn hashtag on Instagram. The more you stuff it, and the more it looks orgasmic. Think about a fish burger of Pescaria or an Italian style Burger with one entire mozzarella di bufala inside...
This might cause a slight issue though.
The problem of a foodporn panino comes when you propose it to the wrong customer or at the wrong time.
Imagine a white collar that opts for a sandwich, as he needs to do a quick lunch before going back to work. He may even start eating the sandwich directly after grabbing it, while walking back. If accidentally some sauce falls down on his white shirt, he will probably be pissed off and won’t order anymore one of those sandwiches during his lunch break.
Besides, have you ever considered the height of the sandwiches you make? If the height is higher than a 90% percentile mouth opening, how people will eat them? Are they sitting, and so, can they use a fork and a knife? But then what is the point of doing a foodporn sandwich if you have to use cutlery to enjoy it?
Creating a panino line is not that easy, it’s not only about thinking the perfect pairings.
You need to understand in which area you are and who will be your typical customer. If you are located in an office area, you will have to think people want to stay light for lunch (to avoid falling asleep in front of the computer during the digestion process) and they will prefer not to get dirty hands or stains on their clothes.
Your customer may as well eat with his colleagues. He may pay attention to what his colleagues think about his diet, above all in the big cities. So he could opt for a healthy turkey with salad toast when the evening at home, far from his work environment, he will enjoy a Carbonara pasta full of cheese...
What does it mean?
Beyond functional design, you need to consider the psychological impact of your sandwich on the eater. Which need at that moment the panino will address. Does your customer want to feel healthy? Does he want to experiment pleasure?
Maybe a fit person in a street food festival, will go there on purpose to get the most cheesy burger from the trucks and live a genuine freedom moment, or his cheat of the week.
In our post modernist/liquid society, a person can be healthy at one moment and ready for guilty pleasure at another moment. When it comes to sandwiches, the importance is not only to understand which customer you will serve but which area (offices, bar areas, festival) and which moment of the day you will address with your food offer.
To be foodporn or to be healthy, that is the paradoxal question…