Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sandwiches, Sandwiches, and More Sandwiches.

Sandwich, Bread, Food, Tomato, Fresh  Did you ever see or read the comic strip called Blondie?  Her husband loved his sandwiches.  He made one that was piled high with layers of cheese, meat, and vegetables, that it must have been a foot tall.  To this day I don't know how he got that thing in his mouth.

Point of fact, since 1951 various people have worked on establishing sandwich shops featuring the Dagwood sandwich named after the character in Blondie.  There appears to be a chain of shops in Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana and Missouri called the Dagwood Sandwich Shoppes which serve a 1.5 pound Dagwood.

Hands, Cards, Magic, Magician, AttentionBut all this begs the question "Where did the sandwich come from?"  It turns out that the sandwich has been around since 1762 when it was thrown together at the request of the 4th Earl of Sandwich who wanted roasted meat thrown between two slices of bread.

The most popular myth is that he'd been gambling for 24 hours and did not want to leave the game so he requested two slices of bread with a piece of meat in between.  It allowed him to continue playing while eating with one hand.   The other myth is that by having a sandwich brought in, the Earl could get more work done in his office.  I don't know which story is correct.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence of who actually made the first sandwich, nor when it made it to the colonies.  The first real American recipes on sandwiches did not appear until the late 1820's.  Apparently the British liked their sandwiches with roast beef while the Americans preferred ham.

Over time, sandwiches became the standard fare for late dinners, teas, picnics, taverns and inns where cold leftovers could easily be used.  In the early days of the railroad, sandwiches could be made ahead and sold to passengers who stepped off the trains to buy snacks.  One of the original fast foods. During the temperance movement, drinking establishments offered free sandwiches with drinks to attract customers.

Some of the early recipes for sandwiches sound strange to our modern ears.

Oyster Sandwich recipe from 1824 advises the cook to cut off the top of a round  loaf and scrape out the crumbs.  Add the crumbs, oysters, water and butter together, cook for 10 to 15 minutes, add a bit of cream and put back in the loaf, pop the top back on and bake till crisp.

A sandwich recipe from 1844 advises the cook to butter the slices of biscuits, and place a thin slice of tongue, ham or white meat between every two slices of biscuits.

Another recipe from 1866 suggests one use regular bread sliced and filled with a thin slice of cheese, or sliced eggs, or jam, or any cold sliced meat.  Each of this is a suggested sandwich but it is not suggested any are put together.

In 1869, they recommend making a dressing from butter, mustard, oil, egg yolk, salt and pepper to add to the sandwich filling.

The sandwich has continued evolving so you can buy it at a sandwich shop, the gas station, have it with fancy bread, fillings of meat, cheese, or vegetable creations.  I doubt the Earl of Sandwich would recognize today's creations but I'm sure he'd enjoy them.


  1. Recently had stomach surgery and now having trouble with bread. One of the quick pleasures of life gone :(

    1. I am so sorry to hear that. I have a friend who was recently diagnosed as allergic to wheat. He is having a hard time finding gluten free bread that tastes good and is missing his sandwiches too.