These are the greatest sandwiches ever made

Ever since John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, invented "meat between two slices of bread" so he could keep eating while gambling his life away, there's been something of a food arms race pitting all of humanity against one another. The goal: learn just how much a person can feasibly fit between two pieces of bread and still call it a sandwich. What follows is a staggering example of the insanity of today's cooks and consumers. Because obviously, they wouldn't be making these ginormous sandwiches if no one was eating them, right? The Earl would be proud. And maybe a little grossed out.

Donut Breakfast Sandwich at Straw - San Francisco, CA

Just how good is a standard issue bacon, egg, and cheese? The answer is: so, so good. Its simplicity and ability to satisfy make it the go-to morning meal of construction workers and drunkards the world over. It just feels right. The Donut Breakfast Sandwich is that sandwich if it was made by some Oompa-Loompas locked inside Willy Wonka's terror dome/factory. This sandwich punches you in the heart by taking a fried egg, maple-glazed bacon, and two different kinds of cheeses (cheddar and jack) and serving them between two glazed donuts. Enjoy your morning. Because you'll be dead by lunch.

Pastrami Sandwich at Katz's Deli - New York, NY

A classic sandwich so good it made Meg Ryan a household name. Since 1888, the pastrami purveyors at Katz's have been setting the standard for conspicuous consumption of all things sandwich. Their signature is another simple affair that astounds the customer with its sheer size: a mound of fatty, salty smoked beef, and mustard, all between two pieces of rye. Stuffing one of these meat mountains down your gullet, while a delicious endeavor, would make the classic line, "I'll have what she's having," more likely a coronary rather than anything else.

Almost Famous Sandwich at Primanti Bros. - Pittsburgh, PA

Here's another sandwich shop that's been holding it down since the 1930s. A Pittsburgh staple that packs a wallop like the Steel Curtain, this sandwich pioneered the notion that the sandwich could be more than just meat. Starting with some soft Italian bread, the Almost Famous is then constructed layer by layer with whatever meat and cheese combination you can imagine, and then topped with tomatoes, coleslaw and French fries. For the glutton on the go, it's the clear winner, as it's the sandwich and the sides all in one.

Francesinha - various places in Portugal

You'd be well within your rights to get intimidated just from looking at the Francesinha, which looks like it could kill you with a single glance … assuming, of course, sandwiches can glance. Any time you have a plate of ham, linguica sausage, steak, and tons of melted cheese on grilled bread, doused heavily in tomato and beer sauce we mentioned earlier, your mouth will water almost as much as your heart will quake in fear.

The Francesinha's gastronomical majesty came into being in the 1960s, when Daniel da Silva tried his hand at a modified version of France's famed croque-monsieur. This led to a dish that varies slightly depending on where you get it, but at Bufete Fase — often considered the place to get a great Francesinha — you may find the best possible iteration. So if you're ever in Portugal and decide this is the dish for you, hit Bufete. Also, it might be in your best interest to wear sweatpants, since that waistline is about to grow 10 sizes in a single sitting.

DiNic's roast pork sandwich - Philadelphia, PA

A few years back, Man v. Food star Adam Richman spearheaded a competition to find the single best sandwich in the US. Ultimately, the contest ended with the roast pork sandwich at DiNic's in Philadelphia standing triumphant, like Rocky Balboa before it. What is it with Philly producing big hunks of meat the nation just can't get enough of?

DiNic's sandwich is fairly basic, but universally agreed to be one of the most delicious things in the culinary world. It's basically a traditional, hearty family dinner on a roll, with perfectly roasted pork joined by provolone cheese, broccoli rabe, and gravy on top. Perhaps the most amazing thing about it, of course, is that in a city known for a certain other kind of sandwich, DiNic's roast pork still managed to emerge victorious as the best in all the land.

Dinosaur BBQ's pork sket - Syracuse, NY

This sandwich got its start at a famed barbecue joint in Central New York that was so damn good, it left Adam Richman with no choice but to burst out in obscenities in order to describe just how delicious it was.

Of course, the thing about Dinosaur BBQ's pork sket is that, if you're going to try to tackle it, you might want to refrain from eating anything a day or two in advance, considering just how much perfectly cooked brisket, pulled pork, and coleslaw get piled onto the sandwich roll. A half-pound of pork, a half-pound of brisket, giant gobs of melted cheddar, some of Dinosaur's signature sauce, and that same slaw that had Richman dropping f-bombs make up what's undoubtedly one of the most delicious barbecue sandwiches you'll ever encounter.

Al's Italian beef - Chicago, IL

It's a little hard to describe just what makes Al's Italian beef so freaking delicious, since most of the ingredients and spices are kept top-secret. But it's made of some of the best Italian beef you could ever hope to taste, served with as much (or as little) au jus sauce as you prefer, topped with both sweet and hot peppers.

There are several variations on how you can get it served, too, depending on your tastes, and on how messy you want to get when eating out in public. Since there's probably no dignified way to tear into a giant pile of meat on a bun, we suggest you get it "wet" (drenched in plenty of au jus), or "dipped" (completely submerged in au jus). In short, go all out. Ditka would want it that way.

The Silver Palm's Three Little Piggy sandwich - Chicago, IL

Anthony Bourdain went on record in calling the Three Little Piggy sandwich at Silver Palm's the single best sandwich in America. And considering the guy was an award-winning chef who literally traveled the world finding each and every delicious dish he could get his hands on, his was not an opinion to be taken lightly.

The Three Little Piggy, in case you couldn't gather from that name, is a trio of mouth-watering pig products: smoked ham, pork tenderloin, and of course, bacon. The three pig-related ingredients are piled high with Gruyere cheese and a fried egg on a brioche bun. Basically, if you're looking for what could be the world's most perfect hangover sandwich, look no farther. And really, considering how well it must soak up that excess alcohol in your system, it's no surprise that Bourdain loved it so much.

Slows Bar-B-Q's Yardbird - Detroit, MI

The Yardbird, a staple at Slows Bar-B-Q in Motown, was another finalist in the same competition that DiNic's roast pork won. And just looking at this thing, we can understand why.

At its heart, the Yardbird is a chicken sandwich. But this particular chicken sandwich is smoked and pulled to perfection, served with a special mustard sauce and heaps of cheddar cheese, mushrooms (if that's your thing), and bacon (that's definitely your thing). Now, that might not sound like anything special or out of the ordinary, the way it's created and is so very, very lovingly prepared each and every time makes it entirely unique, and wholly worth your time in tracking one down next time you're in Detroit for whatever reason.

The Golden Dish's Gatsby - Cape Town, South Africa

This concoction could be described as a "late night, drunken masterpiece" just as accurately as "a sandwich." The Gatsby can be found throughout South Africa, and among the best joints serving up this giant hunk of overflowing deliciousness is the Golden Dish. So good is their version of this sandwich that it ranked among the finalists in a competition to find the greatest Gatsby in Cape Town.

This sandwich is robust, to put it lightly. A giant foot-long roll is cut open and stuffed with anything from steak, fish, chicken, calamari, or sausage, along with eggs and what scientists would refer to as a "pants load" of fries. This thing is so big, and packed so full of flavor and ingredients, that it can easily become a meal for a family of four. And yes, it was conceived in exactly the way you'd imagine a sandwich with this particular combination of ingredients would be created … someone just took all their leftovers and crammed them into a huge roll. And with that, a South African culinary icon was born.

BLT at Tony's I-75 Restaurant - Birch Run, MI

Everyone enjoys a good BLT, right? Most people could do without the L and T and focus on the B, but they appreciate the effort the other letters bring to the sandwich. The BLT at Tony's I-75 dispenses with subtlety and cuts through the pretense, by giving its patrons/daredevils a pound of crispy pig, along with a wink and nod toward the salad bar for the tomato and lettuce. They then slather on the mayonnaise, more as a lubricant that just happens to add a bit of tang to the salt bomb heading for your gut.

The Melt at Melt Bar and Grilled - multiple locations throughout Ohio

The Melt features 12 different cheeses. It is served, somehow, on three slices of bread with a side of fries and slaw. The meal as a whole is billed as more than five pounds of food and, of course, has established an eating challenge to go with it. If a foolhardy soul can finish the Melt without any help—or any "trips to the bathroom"—you will get a shirt, which you will be unable to fit into, or a pint glass large enough to hold your cheesy tears of joy.