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I work at a restaurant and got a request for no condiments on a burger. I took that to include cheese as well as ketchup, mustard, etc. The customer was not pleased and requested his money back.

So what's the verdict on cheese? Is it a condiment?

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I would suspect it highly depends on if he asked for a cheeseburger when a hamburger option is also available... –  Yamikuronue Jun 26 '13 at 23:12
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up vote 10 down vote accepted

I would have interpreted it to mean a sauce, chutney, or relish or similar item sold specifically as a condiment, in context it would mean mustard, ketchup or mayo, but not the cheese.

But probably as a server you would have been best positioned to ask exactly what the customer did want on their burger to prevent misunderstandings.

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+1 for "asking exactly" –  rumtscho Jun 26 '13 at 21:21
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The places I have visited in the US, cheeseburgers and hamburgers have always been different items (with cheeseburgers costing more). I would be surprised to find cheese on a hamburger, though I wouldn't complain, personally. Additionally, I've found I can usually request cheese for an additional charge. Cheese is usually part of the menu item, as in "Cheeseburger", "Cheesy Nachos", or "Pizza". Therefore, since it costs extra and is specific to the item, its probably not a condiment.

I can only speak about the US, and here, we have been conditioned to believe condiments are things which are squeezed from packets, like mustard, ketchup, mayo, hot sauces, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, etc. Things like pickles, onions, cheese, etc are generally not condiments (even though technically, they could be), they're actually called toppings. The exception being hotdogs, in which case everything is a condiment. Condiments for ice creams, which may include nuts or bits of candy. Condiments for salads, which could mean croutons, bacon bits, as well as dressing, but cheese would be an ingredient (like carrots), not a condiment.

McDonalds has it right:

http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/nutritionfacts.pdf

Taco Bell even differentiates between condiments and sauces:

http://www.tacobell.com/nutrition/information

Subway classifies cheese under the "condiments and extras" category, which implies condiments are the liquid things, while the extras are the things like cheese, pepperoni, and bacon.

http://www.subway.com/nutrition/NutritionList.aspx?id=breadtop&Countrycode=USA

In summary, cheese is not a condiment where burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and salads are concerned. It could be considered a condiment for hotdogs, but I would prefer the term "topping" and reserve "condiments" to mean "sauces".

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I have only had cheeseburgers with slices of processed cheese. But when the OP described thinking of cheese as a condiment, I thought that their workplace may use processed cheese from the bottle, which then would make it consistent with your "squeezed" definition. I have never seen squeezable cheese used in neither McD nor Subway, so their definitions may not be applicable here (there are no Taco Bells where I live, so no comments about them). –  rumtscho Jun 29 '13 at 15:48
    
That's an "impressive outside the box" observation, but the question was asked with such deliberate generality that I believe it includes cheese of any definition. I wouldn't generally expect to find squeezable cheese on burgers since most of it would ooze out into a big mess and cold sandwiches would have cold slices. The exception would be hot sandwiches like Philly Cheese Steaks or Arby's sandwiches, but again, the cheese is usually part of the menu item, therefore an ingredient. If you order a Philly Cheese without the condiments, you still get cheese just like you still get beef. –  Randy Jun 29 '13 at 20:39
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