Grateful American® Foundation

Happy National Sandwich Day: How did the sammie get its start?

November 3rd

Earl-of-SandwichNovember 3, 1762 — Today is Sandwich Day in celebration of the day that British nobleman John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, popularized the delicacy during the Revolutionary War. For years, early Americans considered eating a sandwich to be un-patriotic.

Here’s how the story goes: Food historians agree that Montagu had a substantial gambling problem, which led him to spend hours on end at the card table. During a particularly long binge, he asked the house cook to bring him something he could eat without getting up from his seat. His chef brought him the revolutionary sandwich, and a trend was born. Montagu enjoyed his meal so much that he ate it constantly, and as the creation grew popular in London society circles, and also took on the Earl’s name.

But says the first recorded sandwich was made by the rabbi, Hillel the Elder who lived during the 1st century B.C. He started the Passover custom of sandwiching a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices, and wine between two matzohs to eat with bitter herbs.

What’s the most popular sandwich in the States today? According to the menu research firm Datassential, Americans are most enchanted by the turkey sandwich (14%), followed by ham (11%), chicken (9%), and the sub (8%). Those classics — the PB&J and BLT — tied with grilled cheese (5%); roast beef came in at 4%. Additionally, data studied from 100,000 restaurant menus showed the most popular sandwich ingredients are: barbecue, chipotle, and pesto. Those gaining in popularity are: kimchee, aged cheddar, and naan.

Words of Wisdom

I dined at the Cocoa Tree....That respectable body affords every evening a sight truly English. Twenty or thirty of the first men in the kingdom....supping at little tables....upon a bit of cold meat, or a Sandwich.

— The first written record of the word "sandwich" appeared in Edward Gibbons (1737-1794), English author, scholar, and historian, journal on November 24, 1762. Gibbon recorded his surprise at seeing scores of the noblest and wealthiest in the land, seated in a noisy coffee-room, at little tables covered by small napkins, supping off cold meat or sandwiches, and finishing with strong punch.

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