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13 Catt. 1: In re Wassub

2012 October 3

CATTLEYA, J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. JEREMY, C.J., wrote a separate concurrence.

Up for review before the Cart is Wassub, a food truck that serves Asian fusion subs. Asian fusion dishes have not fared well in our court. See, e.g.In re Sâuçá, 4 Catt. 3 (2011) (un-eatable fusion bánh mì); In re Seoul Food, 3 Catt. 1 (2011) (confusing Korean-Mexican burrito bowl); In re TaKorean, 1 Catt. 4 (2011) (not-worth-the-hype Korean tacos). Still, we approached Wassub with unbiased stomachs and ordered the kimchi bulgogi sub.



We must first determine whether a sub is “street food.” If the answer is yes, then a presumption arises that the sub should be affirmed by this court. See In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012). Street food is “the kind[] of food[] that can be cooked in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.”  In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011). It is well-settled that sandwiches are street food. See, e.g.In re Willie’s Po’Boy, 7 Catt. 4 (2012) In re Rolling Ficelle, 6 Catt. 3 (2012); In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012). Therefore, we must affirm Wassub’s sub unless we can show that there are flaws significant enough to overcome the presumption of affirmance. We cannot meet this burden.

Kimchi bulgogi sub


Wassub’s kimchi bulgogi sub marries a Philly cheesesteak with Korean barbecue. The sandwich is composed of thinly-sliced, marinated rib eye beef; homemade kimchi; a thin scrambled egg pancake; provolone cheese; and mayo. You have the option to add a sauce. There is a sweet sauce (“Sweetie Sauce”), a spicy sauce (“Sexy Sauce”), and a spicier sauce (“Hottie Sauce”). We chose the spiciest option.

Upon opening the Styrofoam container, we first noted the size of the sub. It was a good-sized sandwich and held the promise of a filling meal. We were also struck by the release of a potent aroma that emanated from the sandwich. It too held a promise–the promise of a meaty, sweet, and spicy lunch.

My first bite was meaty and sweet indeed, but it wasn’t spicy. An inspection of the sandwich showed that the kimchi wasn’t distributed evenly. I bit into the sandwich again, and I got a whole lot of bulgogi and a little bit of everything else–kimchi, scrambled egg, and provolone. It was good. But then I added the so-called Hottie Sauce, and it was even better.

Closer look of kimchi bulgogi sub

There was nothing bad inside the sandwich. The bulgogi was sweet and tender. The kimchi was real kimchi. Cf. Takorean, 1 Catt. 4 (passing off vinegared slaw as kimchi). The provolone melted nicely. Moreover, the sandwich was not overly messy. The melted cheese seemed to function as a binding agent to hold all of the components together. When I bit into the sandwich, it didn’t explode and fall apart in my hands. Yes, I needed a napkin to clean up after I finished eating, but I didn’t need ten.

The sub was satisfying. But (isn’t there usually a “but”?), some elements could have been raised to even higher heights. The scrambled egg didn’t detract from the sandwich, but more often than not I didn’t taste it. Perhaps a sunny side up egg would have been better. Just thinking about a runny yolk soaking into all of the nooks and crannies between the bulgogi meat makes me hungry. And I would have liked much more kimchi on the sandwich to kick up the heat.

I must note a technical difficulty with the process of eating the sandwich. The hot juices from the meat soaked through the bottom layer of the roll. Now, this was not a bad thing. Not at all. The juices saturated the bread and infused it with flavor. Delicious. The problem was that the meat juices were so, so, so piping hot that I couldn’t pick up the sandwich and hold it for very long. My fingertips burned. This problem could very easily be alleviated by serving the sandwich in deli wrapping paper. That way there would be a layer to protect one’s sensitive fingers from the hot temperatures of the juice-soaked bread.


Wassub didn’t make any major fumbles with its kimchi bulgogi sub. It was good just the way it was, especially when spicy sauce was poured all over it.

(But, yes, it could be great with some minor tweaks, namely more kimchi and a sunny side up egg.)


JEREMY, C.J., concurring. CATTLEYA, J., joins in everything except the pretentious bits in paragraph no. 4.

I have noticed a disturbing trend among mobile gastronomic enterprises. That trend, unfortunately, is obscenity. I have observed it before, see In re Hot People Food, 6 Catt. 4 (2012), and I have heard tell of the “Ring-My-Bella Burger” over at Sassy Sandwiches. But Wassub is perhaps the worst offender I have had the chance yet to encounter.

As a federal court, deriving its power ultimately from Article III of the United States Constitution, this Supreme Cart is subject to the pronouncements of the United States Supreme Court, even though appeal from this body to that body is strictly curtailed. We are thus bound by the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973), which establishes a sound and well-reasoned test to determine what constitutes obscenity. Under that test, we must ask: (a) “whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;” (b) “whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct;” and (c) “whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

“Better than Sex” Claim

Besides boasting “Hottie Sauce,” Wassub offers several reasons why their sub “is better than sex.” Those reasons are reproduced in the graphic above. We will not undertake to determine whether their boast is substantiated—at the very least, it is mere puffery—but we find instead that they satisfy Miller’s test for obscenity.

No reasonable mind can seriously contend that the reasons above do not “depict[] or describe[], in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct.” Nor can the “average person, applying contemporary community standards” find otherwise than that “the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.” Judges and justices have long been maligned for being out of touch with the common man. But we, like the average Joe, don our flowing, black robes one arm at a time; we wait patiently in line for opera tickets; we eat our frankfurters with Grey Poupon. Our own standards align with those of our communities. We, like you, share a strong distaste for the degradation of society—with its inline skates and rock ‘n’ roll music—and yearn for the simpler existence of our childhoods, when dinner and a movie cost a nickel and the streets bustled with the familiar sounds of Model T’s. We are hep to your lingo and your Google and your Foxfire. Accordingly, we find that we, the Justices of this Supreme Cart, are more than able to discern the would-be observations of the “average person, applying contemporary community standards.” We average Joes cannot help but find Wassub’s boasts to appeal only “to the prurient interest.”

We turn, then, to our primary inquiry: whether Wassub’s boast, “taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” There is certainly no literary value: the text of the poster has none of the rhyme of Spenser or the rhythm of Ferlinghetti. There is certainly no artistic value: the poster shown above is downright ugly. There is certainly no legitimate political value, nor is there any sense of science about Wassub’s claims.

If for no other reason than, as Justice Potter Stewart famous wrote, “I know it when I see it,” Wassub, in addition to its sub, purveys a certain sort of obscenity. See Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964).

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