A History of the Sandwich in the UK

SandwichSandwiches are among the UK’s favourite delicacies. Whether served hot or cold, you just can’t beat the fulfilment or convenience that a sandwich can offer.

Sandwiches can come in many forms and their fillings can comprise of almost anything. They are easy to make in the kitchen and have the added bonus of not requiring cutlery to consume, making them perfect for picnics, day-trips and even the morning rush on the train. Let’s celebrate the Sandwich by looking back over its origins!


Quite when and where the first sandwich was eaten is up for debate, depending on what one would class as a sandwich. It is commonly believed, though, that the concept of using sliced bread on the outside originated from the Western World in the 18th century. However, there are reports that prior to this bread was eaten with what we now class as filling – but as a base to “scoop” up the food or enclose it.

Therefore the first “sandwiches” were formed as what we now know as flatbread wraps, and these are believed to have popularised by Jewish Passover feasts. To this day, flatbread remains a favourite in Western and Central Asia, and North Africa.

Sandwiches as we know them in the UK – consisting of two slices of bread either side of a filling of generally a concoction of meat or salad, or both – were widely believed to have been born from John Montagu; the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Allegedly he was an avid gambler and did not want the distraction of having to leave the card table to eat supper, so he ordered his cook to bring him meat wrapped by two slices of toast for convenience. Others took note of how he would eat his food and the ease with which he could do this while playing, so it soon became known as the “Sandwich”; which everybody at the card table was ordering!

Historical and Cultural Consequences

In 2006, following a dispute about rights to sell sandwiches in a store, an American court in Boston, Massachusetts ruled that a sandwich must be defined as having “at least two slides of bread” – and therefore differentiated it from a taco or burrito; both single tortilla wraps and therefore not falling under the definition.

The verb “to sandwich” has also been defined in The Oxford English Dictionary “to position two other things of a different character, or to place different elements alternatively”. This now commonly refers to ice creams, and is commonly an expression used when compiling timetables.

Also Read:

The Best Picnic Spots in Oxford (Taylors Oxford)

What Makes a Good Sandwich Bread? (The Kitchn)

Christmas Leftovers (BBC)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s