History Of Sandwich And How It Has Changed Over Time


A sandwich is defined as being two slices of bread with a filling in between them. What’s your favorite – are you an egg salad fan or do you prefer spicy chicken, grilled cheese or something else? Everyone has their own favorite sandwich, but what is the history of sandwiches and how have they changed through time?

A public minister used to spend most of the day at a public gaming table and he didn’t eat anything but beef between two slices of bread because he didn’t want to stop the game. It’s said the dish gained popularity and ended up as the sandwiches we know and love today. This anecdote might or might not be fully or partially true but it’s one way of explaining how modern sandwiches came into existence.

The fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, is credited with introducing the sandwich to his high society friends in London, including Edward Gibbon who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He was the first person to write down the word sandwich using its culinary context, and that happened in 1762.

The Oldest Sandwich Recipes

Despite all that, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact birth of the sandwich, since rural French farm workers have been eating meat between bread for hundreds of years, as were other nations. Also consider the Hillel or Korech sandwich which is a food eaten at Jewish Passover. This dates back to 110 BC and the first version was bitter herbs sandwiched between unleavened matzo bread. The herbs are to represent slavery while the bread is similar to the ancient Israelite’ flatbread they made quickly when fleeing Egypt.

Achieving Even Greater Popularity

1816 was when sandwiches started to appear in American cookbooks and the fillings were no longer meat, but now cheese, fish, mushrooms, nuts, fruit and more. Sandwich consumption increased after the Civil War and you could find them everywhere from basic taverns to fine restaurants.

Different sandwiches were getting their own names by the end of the 1800s, with the corned beef ‘Reuben’ and the 3-layered club sandwich being examples.

Gustav Papendick created a method of slicing and packing bread commercially in the 1920s and this meant you could put sandwiches together quickly and easily at home without having to use a knife.

Now sandwiches are popular all over the globe. Shawarma or falafel in pita bread is popular in the Middle East, while ham and cheese on Cuban bread is the Cuban choice and rustic panini are the norm in Italy. Because there are so many types of sandwiches, it’s fair to say they are one of the best known and best loved foods on the planet.

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