How Did it Become… The Sandwich?

The Epic Saga of How the Sandwich Came to Be

Article by G. Breen
Published on March 19, 2019.

Sandwiches. Everybody loves them, right? They come in all varieties, from Italian, to tuna salad, to Nutella. There are even restaurants devoted to making sandwiches! But how did we end up with such a delicious, versatile creation?

Enter the 4th earl of Sandwich (yes, that’s a real title), John Montagu. He was a somewhat prominent politician in the mid-to-late 1700s, as part of the House of Lords and the postmaster general for England. During the American Revolution, he was the first lord of the Admiralty (a fancy name for the political head of the navy). He was also infamous for being a prolific gambler and poker player.

We know for a fact that two things were named after him: the Sandwich Islands (Now known as Hawaii) and the sandwich. The latter is supposedly because of an event that is most likely untrue. The story goes that the earl was playing poker, while also eating meat. However, he couldn’t eat his food while holding his poker cards. So, he ordered one of his servants to bring him two pieces of bread. He put the meat between the bread, and was able to play cards while also enjoying his food.

In summary, while the Earl of Sandwich may not have invented the sandwich, he was its namesake, and the reason Hawaii originally shared its name with hoagies. So, I guess we can be grateful it was named after him, and not with any of these earls: The Earl of Bath, the Earl of Ogle, or the Earl of Tinmouth. Next time you eat a sandwich, be grateful that you aren’t eating a ham and cheese tinmouth, or a meatball ogle.

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