Exploring the History of Sandwich: A Journey Through Time

When you’re hungry, don’t have time, and want something quick to make that will fulfil your appetite, there’s only one thing to turn to: sandwiches. So, what are sandwiches, how are they made, where did they originate from, and why are they so popular today?


Sandwiches are created by taking two slices of bread and stuffing them with any sort of filling, such as chicken or pork. The United States Department of Agriculture conducted a study called What Do We Eat in America, in which 6000 people were asked what they ate during the day. So it was discovered that 47 percent of people consume sandwiches on regular basis.


Illustration of John Montagu having a piece of Sandwich

We now understand what sandwiches are and how they are made. Let us now learn about its history. The sandwich was named after “John Montagu”, known as the 4th Earl of Sandwich and a well-known British leader. He was a member of the House of Lords, which is the UK Parliament’s second chamber. This chamber’s job is to create laws for the government and to monitor whether the government is executing its job correctly or not. It was considered as a highly important government entity.

Let’s find out what a sandwich has to do with a politician

Graphical illustration of Book – Tour to London by Pierre-Jean Grosley

So it was in early 1770’s, when Pierre-Jean Grosley, a famous French traveler and writer, published a book called “A Tour to London”, in which he writes about his journey along with the experience that he had in London. There is a famous incident associated with John Montagu. When John Montagu was separated from his mentally ill wife, his impression was quite negative, and he developed an addiction to drugs and gambling as a result of it. He used to spend the entire day gambling. Then one day, Pierre-Jean Grosley was also present at that event when John Montagu was playing poker. So he noticed that he is so engrossed in gambling that he is unware of the fact that he is playing it continuously from the past 24 hours.

John Montagu was quite occupied with that match, so he requested the cook to fetch him something from the kitchen that he could consume with his bare hands while playing. So the cook brought a cold piece of beef inside the bread at that time, which he ate to satisfy his hunger. So Grosley learned that what John Montagu ate was actually called a sandwich in local language. He discovered this word since the word “sandwich” was often used in Britain. The explanation for this is because, in 1762 the famous historian Edward Gibbon coined the term “sandwich” in one of his journal. Since then, this term has grown in popularity.

It’s entry to America

This sandwich was quite popular in the United Kingdom, but it took a long time to reach America since the United States did not want to accept British practices owing to mutual resentments. But it eventually spread to America as well. It was first highlighted in American cookbooks in 1816. But its recipe was nothing like the British cold sandwich. It was flavoured with a variety of cheeses, as well as fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Also the beef in British sandwiches were replaced by ham or pork in American one.

Sandwiches became popular in America during the “Great Depression”. The Great Depression crisis was America’s worst economic crisis, and it profoundly crippled the country. It was 1929, and New Orleans was experiencing a streetcar strike. This was a Labour strike against an American corporation. It is regarded as the most violent strike during that period. So, during this protest, two brothers, also known as the “Martin Brothers”, came forward to support those workers. They owned a restaurant in New Orleans and promised the workers free sandwiches for as long as the strike lasted. So they came up with a sandwich that is a bit cheaper in cost and feeds everyone’s tummy. The main ingredient of this sandwich was potatoes, gravy, and tiny chunks of roasted beef placed within French toast with veggies. They named this “Poor-Boy” Sandwich, which subsequently became “Po-Boy”. As a result, Po-boy sandwiches became so popular that they began to appear in newspapers and on the menus of every restaurant. As a result, eateries in old New Orleans that used to prepare loaves began employing the new form of bread, which was significantly larger in size than the previous loaves.

How it became an important part of American diet?

Cutting bread into slices to make sandwiches was a big task, to simplify it, Otto Frederick Rohweder constructed an automated machine, which Gustav Papendick purchased and enhanced, and discovered a way of improving the shelf life of bread also. Because of this, the market demand for pre-sliced bread surged, making the task of creating sandwiches considerably easier. With the introduction of peanut butter to the market, it became even more popular. It was considered a healthy option, and it also made housewives’ jobs easier by providing a quick and healthy lunch option for the children and adults. You can easily add anything from vegetarian to nonveg and change your sandwich according to your desire and taste preference, and its preparation takes only a few minutes, contributing to it being an increasingly common meal among Americans.

Types of sandwich available in modern times

  1. Classic Deli Sandwich: Packed with various deli meats, cheeses, and condiments.
  2. Grilled Cheese: Melted cheese between slices of toasted bread.
  3. BLT: Bacon, lettuce, and tomato with mayo on toasted bread.
  4. Club Sandwich: Triple-decker with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
  5. Peanut Butter & Jelly: Spread of peanut butter and jelly or jam between slices.
  6. Tuna Salad: Tuna mixed with mayo, often with celery and onion, between bread slices.
  7. Egg Salad: Chopped hard-boiled eggs mixed with mayo and seasonings.
  8. Chicken Salad: Shredded chicken mixed with mayo, often with grapes or celery.
  9. Ham and Cheese: Slices of ham with cheese on bread.
  10. Cucumber Sandwich: Slices of cucumber with cream cheese on bread.
  11. Vegetarian: Various veggies, cheeses, and spreads on bread.
  12. Monte Cristo: Ham and cheese, dipped in egg and fried.
  13. Reuben: Corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and dressing on rye.
  14. Italian Sub: Salami, ham, capicola, and cheese with veggies and dressing.
  15. Croissant Sandwich: Various fillings in a croissant instead of bread.
  16. Fish Sandwich: Battered and fried fish fillet with lettuce and tartar sauce.
  17. Meatball Sub: Meatballs with marinara sauce and cheese in a sub roll.
  18. French Dip: Roast beef on a roll, served with au jus for dipping.
  19. Open-Faced Sandwich: Toppings on a single slice of bread.
  20. Bagel Sandwich: Fillings placed in a bagel instead of traditional bread.

Nutritional value in sandwiches

One of the key components that significantly impacts the nutritional profile of a sandwich is the choice of bread. Opting for whole grain or whole wheat bread can provide valuable dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients contribute to improved digestion, prolonged satiety, and steady energy levels. In contrast, refined white bread may lack these nutrients and lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.

When it comes to fillings, the protein source plays a vital role in enhancing the nutritional value of the sandwich. Lean proteins such as grilled chicken, turkey, or plant-based options like tofu or legumes add muscle-repairing amino acids without excessive saturated fats. Including a variety of colorful vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers not only adds vibrant flavors but also provides an array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Spreads and condiments can add both taste and texture to a sandwich, but they should be used judiciously. Opting for healthier choices like hummus, guacamole, or mustard over high-fat mayonnaise or creamy dressings can help reduce unnecessary calories and unhealthy fats. Moreover, being mindful of portion sizes and avoiding excessive layers of spreads can contribute to a more balanced sandwich.

While sandwiches can offer a plethora of nutritional benefits, it’s important to be cautious of certain pitfalls. Some processed meats, such as salami and bologna, can be high in sodium and unhealthy fats. Additionally, sweet spreads like sugary jams and jellies can add extra sugars to the meal. Reading food labels and making informed choices can help mitigate these potential drawbacks.


From its humble beginnings in ancient times to its status as a staple in modern cuisine, the sandwich has truly come a long way. Its rich history and global influence reflect its versatility and enduring appeal. As we savor the flavors and textures of sandwiches, let us remember the journey through time that has led to this beloved culinary creation enjoyed by millions worldwide.

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