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11 Sandwiches Named After Famous People

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Celebrities use their names to sell everything from perfume to prepaid debit cards. So it was only a matter of time before money-minded entrepreneurs got in on the action. In the sandwich business in particular, superstar names are de rigueur. New York’s legendary Stage Deli, which closed its doors after 75 years in late 2012, regularly honored its most illustrious patrons with namesake sandwiches (Clint Eastwood, Adam Sandler and Katie Couric are among the inductees).

Here are 11 other sandwiches named after famous people.


1. The Scott Baio

With 150 items on the menu, not every sandwich on the vast menu at Lioni Italian Heroes in Brooklyn can be a winner (we’re not sure who’s ordering the Joe Paterno, for example). But hometown teen idol-turned-reality TV staple Scott Baio was thrilled to have his moniker tacked on to one of these Italian gut-busters (above, courtesy of Savor Everything). Unsurprisingly, cheese is a main ingredient in his namesake sammy; homemade mozzarella is layered with prosciutto di parma, sopressata, banana peppers, basil and a dollop of balsamic vinegar.

2. The Anna Kendrick

When it comes to staying power, the bold-faced wieners at Hot Doug’s—Chicago’s self-described “sausage superstore and encased meat emporium"—are a bit like ’80s boy band Menudo: temporary. Case in point: The “mighty hot” Anna Kendrick… which has formerly been known as the Keira Knightley, the Jennifer Garner, and the Britney Spears. This is not to be confused with the “mighty, mighty, mighty hot” Brigitte Bardot (which has also been called the Salma Hayek, the Madonna, the Raquel Welch, and the Ann-Margret).

3. The Woody Allen

Celebrity sandwiches have come and gone at New York City’s Carnegie Deli: in 2012, they introduced The Jetbow, a 3.5-pound meat monstrosity (corned beef, pastrami, roast beef), to welcome Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. One year earlier, The Melo—pastrami on rye topped with salami, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and Russian dressing—was assembled in honor of then-newbie Knick Carmelo Anthony. But The Woody Allen, a.k.a. The Broadway Danny Rose, is a towering mess of corned beef and pastrami—named after the 1984 movie Allen filmed at the 76-year-old eatery—that could very well outweigh the pint-sized writer/director himself.

4. Justin Timberlake’s Soup & Thai Sandwich

Self-promotional chow is the last thing you’ll find at Southern Hospitality, Justin Timberlake’s Hell’s Kitchen barbecue joint. But that hasn’t stopped the fun-loving minds behind video sharing site HooplaHa from cooking up the Soup & Thai Sandwich, a JT-themed meal you can prepare at home (just make sure you’ve got some ramen noodles, BBQ ribs, bok choy, cornmeal, and peanut sauce handy).

5. The Hugh Hefner

Hollywood is alive and well six hours north of Los Angeles, where deli sandwich paradise Heimerhaus is serving up more than 30 familiar names between two pieces of bread. The Burt Reynolds is suitably manly and chock-full of roast beef, ham, and peeled egg, while the Hugh Hefner (also appropriately) has got a handful of breast: turkey and ham with chutney and jack cheese.

6. Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedy Special

Any sandwich shop with a jar of peanut butter and a fresh banana lying around might be tempted to make some variation of Elvis Presley’s favorite snack, and New York City’s Peanut Butter & Co. makes a delectable one (grilled peanut butter, banana and honey, which can be ordered with or without bacon). But it takes a serious PB connoisseur to impress Jerry Seinfeld enough that he’ll share his personal favorite recipe—and let you trademark it. Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedy Special is an open-faced bagel sandwich, toasted then topped with peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon.

7. The Mark Zuckerberg

Mr. Bartley’s has been dishing out freshly ground burgers to Harvard co-eds and other smart Bostonians for more than 50 years. Its menu of 30 tongue-in-cheek patties poke fun at local and global celebrities, politics, and pop culture happenings. The Mark Zuckerberg is the restaurant’s gastronomic take on the “richest geek in America,” with Boursin cheese and bacon and a side of sweet potato fries.

8. The Spitzer

Any deli that proudly proclaims it has been “Raising New York’s Cholesterol Since 1929” isn’t afraid to cross PC boundaries. Following former governor Eliot Spitzer’s epic fall from grace in 2008 after his penchant for $1,000-per-hour prostitutes became public knowledge, Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop renamed one of its classic combos The Spitzer: hot tongue on rye.

9. The Gertrude Stein

Famous-name sandwiches are about the only traditional thing you’ll find at Austin’s Schmaltz, a Jewish deli with a couple of twists: it’s located in a trailer behind a bookstore, and it’s mostly vegan but all vegetarian—yes, even the Reuben. The Gertrude Stein is a particularly sophisticated option, made with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, sweet pickled onions, cucumbers, avocado, and micro-greens.

10. The Al Gore

Eco-warrior Al Gore’s love of all things green inspired the turkey sandwich at Two Bears Deli in Grand Rapids, Michigan; it’s crammed with mixed greens, feta cheese, dried cherries, and walnuts in a tomato wheat wrap.

11. The Alfred Hitchcock

Old-school lunch spot Fritzankotter’s Sandwich Factory in Huntington Beach, California promises “unusual sandwiches and, of course, the standbys” from a menu divided into 10 sections, categorized by protein and each given the name of a world-famous figure (some of them fictional, like Archie Bunker, and many of them now passed away). The only mystery surrounding The Hitchcock is how the Master of Suspense managed to inspire such an anticlimactic roster of ingredients: ham and provolone, smeared with mustard and served on a French roll.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
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