The History of the Humble Sandwich

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British Sandwich Week 2018

With next week signalling the start of British Sandwich Week 2018, which runs from Sunday 20th May to Saturday 26th of May. We thought what better way to celebrate the iconic sandwich than to delve a little into its history and how it became a staple in many people’s diets.

Before the traditional sandwich with a filling in-between two slices of bread, the Dutch had the first early example of a sandwich-like product. This was bread and butter with cured beef on top and was served in pubs throughout the early 17th century.

It is said the traditional sandwiches we know today, were made popular in 1762 by John Montagu, who at the time was the Earl of Sandwich. Many food historians state that the Earl suffered from a gambling addiction and would play cards for hours on end. During one game of particularly exciting gambling, he didn’t want to leave the table so asked a waiter to bring him meat in between two slices of bread so that he could continue to play cards.

The alternative version of this story, written in his biography suggests that Sandwich's commitments to politics, the navy and art meant that he could not leave his desk for lunch and so needed something he could eat whilst working. After this people began asking for " what sandwich has" which in time was shortened to just "a sandwich." The first mention of the word 'sandwich' in a recipe book came in 1773 in a book called "The Lady's Assistant for Regulating and Supplying the Table" written by Charlotte Mason.

The popularity of sandwiches soared after the invention of sliced bread in 1928, meaning that it was quicker, simpler and easier to make.

The first pre-packed ready-made sandwiches were sold in the UK in 1980, when Marks & Spencers wrapped up some left-over sandwiches from its Marble Arch store café rather than wasting them. This suited the busy on the go life of many London workers. Nowadays it is estimated that the sandwich industry is worth £8 billion in the UK alone and employs over 300,000 people.  

As a bakery which provides wonderful bread for foodservice, you can imagine that we all love a good, hearty sandwich.

Extra thick white bloomer with a ham salad filling

Extra thick white bloomer with a ham salad filling

Open sandwich with German rye bread with a mixture of toppings, including avocado, tomato, cucumber, salami and mozzarella

Open sandwich with German rye bread with a mixture of toppings, including avocado, tomato, cucumber, salami and mozzarella

Malted box with lettuce, salami and melted cheese

Malted box with lettuce, salami and melted cheese

BUT WHAT ARE THE UK’S FAVOURITE SANDWICHES?