The sandwich: The 50/50 from Jake’s Sandwich Board on South 12th St. in Philly, recommended by Twitter multiple times over.
The construction: Slow-roasted pulled pork, bacon, house sriracha spread and provolone cheese on a sesame-seed hoagie.
Important background information: Jake’s sandwich board features a slew of awesome-sounding sandwiches. I picked the 50/50 because of a sign near the front calling it the Sandwich of the Year in some newspaper or magazine’s poll, and because the two guys ahead of me on line both also ordered 50/50s so it seemed like the thing to get.
Jake’s, which opened in 2010, also offers a ridiculous eating challenge that seems aimed directly at getting the establishment on Man vs. Food. If you can eat a two-foot, three-pound sandwich, four soft pretzels, a box of Tasty Kakes, 24 peanut chews and a large cherry soda in 45 minutes, it’s all free and you get your photo on the wall. If you fail, as almost everyone does, you still get your photo on the wall but with a big stamp on it that says “FAILED.”
When I sat down to await my sandwich, the guys at the next table over were in the midst of a discussion of Jake’s wall of fame and shame. “I don’t see him on here,” one guy said.
“Well, his doctor told him he had to stop,” said another.
What it looks like:
How it tastes: Decadent. Delicious, but spectacularly decadent.
The pulled pork is so tender it hardly gives when you bite it, allowing your jaw to tear through a whole lot of pork in very little time. The meat itself has a pleasant pork flavor with a soft, black-peppery kick, which combines with the “house sriracha spread” — which looks and tastes a hell of a lot like sriracha and mayo mixed — to give the thing an indistinct back-of-the-mouth heat that never quite bites or cuts but is present throughout.
Bacon is bacon, and it’s well-prepared — thin-sliced but layered thickly, crunchy but not overcooked, still oozing grease from its recesses. The provolone cheese is piled on top and I caught myself wishing at times during the first half of the sandwich that they had found a way to better distribute it throughout. By the second half, it melted onto the pork and provided a nice sharp flavor and some creaminess on the other side of the sriracha spread.
The bread was soft, but it wilted in the center under the considerable grease of the ingredients on top. But I’m not sure it’s fair to fault the bread. A yellowish, translucent grease spilled out the back of the sandwich starting with the first bite and pooled up in the wax paper below, ultimately catching some thicker splashes of bright pink sriracha spread to create an ominous, psychedelic lava lamp of grease in the dish.
In my head I could hear the guy at the next table again. “His doctor told him he had to stop.” But I looked at that guy and he was midway through some massive and awesome-looking sandwich. And I looked down at the remaining quarter of mine, wondering what my own doctor would say — almost certainly: “stop!” — then picked it up and polished it off.
I suspect the sandwich is called the 50/50 because it’s even money it’ll kill you. Wouldn’t be the worst way to go out.
What it’s worth: It cost only $8, which is a pretty great deal. It’s obvious every ingredient in there is quality, and if you had more will power than me you could probably make two meals out of it.
How it rates: 77 out of 100. On taste and texture alone it’s a borderline Hall of Famer, but it’s docked points for the associated grease and guilt.