Americans love sandwiches. We consume about 300 million of them a day. It’s a little ironic, given that our Declaration of Independence broke us away from Britain, where the modern sandwich was born. Sure, ever since the Egyptians starting making flatbreads around 8,000 BC, all manner of foods have been stuffed between, cradled in, or rolled up with some kind of bread. But food historians generally agree that the modern sandwich was born in England, southeast of London in the County Kent.
In 1762, as the story goes, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of the town of Sandwich, asked his cook to devise a meal that he could eat at the card table without utensils. Lord Montagu, it seems, had quite a gambling habit and spent much of his time playing cards. The inventive (and nameless) cook obliged, and with a handful of sliced meat nestled between two slices of bread, the Earl was in heaven. It became his lucky meal at the gambling table, and the “sandwich” grew in popularity throughout London and beyond.
Today, sandwiches take many different forms from Dagwoods and burgers to gyros, panini, Reubens, Monte Cristos, Croque Monsieurs, banh mi, BLTs, sloppy joes, cheesesteaks, grilled cheese, subs (or heroes, hoagies, grinders or po’ boys, depending on where you’re from), peanut butter & jelly, and even ice cream sandwiches. Americans seem to love them all. In particular, American laborers have a strong penchant for sandwiches. Portable, satisfying, and typically full of protein and energy-giving carbohydrates, what’s not to love? Perhaps some of those old British traditions are worth keeping around!
This Labor Day, as summer comes to a close, raise a sandwich for the American worker. Laborers from steelworkers and carpenters to electricians, plumbers, machinists, warehouse workers, auto workers, truckers, and office workers help to keep this great country running. And sandwiches often help keep them running!
Published On: 8/25/2020 Last Modified: 8/24/2023