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History of Sandwich: Colonial Past that Most Patriotic Americans Wanted to Forget


History of Sandwich: Colonial Past that Most Patriotic Americans Wanted to Forget

Despite all worldly excesses, the sandwich proofs that at the core people are pragmatic. However, the portable food was called “meat on bread” before the name “sandwich” was coined, which frankly doesn’t have the same ring.


Hot or cold, sweet or savoury, finger-food or foot-long, this layered culinary staple will remain in the world’s collective menu. How was this finger-sized or foot-long food invented? Delve between the slices of bread and find out the story of this delicious portable dish!


Origin of Sandwich:

Although one might slice the food in any way, the origin of the portable sandwich is not easy to trace. Several people throughout ancient history have been seen holding their food in their hands and even enjoying the delicacy.


Hillel the Elder, a prominent Jewish rabbi who lived around the 1st century B.C. was the first recorded. During his leisure of designing the Golden Rule, it is believed that Hillel placed a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices and wine between two matzos (unleavened bread), which were consumed with bitter herbs.


He was the first person after whom the comfort food sandwich is named: Hillel’s concoction became ingrained in the observation in the observation of Passover that the food came to be known as a “Hillel sandwich”.


During the middle ages, between the 6th and 16th centuries AD people didn’t use plates for eating rather they ate from blocks of stale bread, trenchers. Among other foods, meats with sauce were piled on top of the trenchers and were consumed by fingers.


The trencher had thick absorbent texture; soaked up the excess juices and were eaten if the diner felt hungry after the meal. Otherwise, the trencher was either thrown away or was given amongst the poor.


According to some sources and records, the first recorded mention of the sandwich was around 0664 AD, but there was probably some kind of settlement during the Roman times as the site is very close to Richborough Roman Fort, Rutupiae. Most likely, the name of the town is Saxon, approximately meaning sandy place.


In the 17th century, taverns in the Netherlands started serving food that was similar to the present day sandwiches. They hung the cured beef from the ceilings of the taverns that were sliced and paired with bread and butter for the customers.


The sandwich that the world knows and consumes presently popularized in England during the 18th century. The story goes that in the middle of a 24-hour gambling event John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich wanted to continue his betting even without taking a break for his lunch.


He conveyed his trip to the Mediterranean where he saw pita bread and small canapes were served by the Greeks and Turks. He found that dips, cheese, and meats were all “sandwiched” between and on the layers of bread.


Montagu instructed an aide in putting together a similar meal for him that could easily be eaten with a hand and continued with his gambling spree. Montagu enjoyed his meat and bread so much that he ate the same constantly and with the popularization of the concoction in London society, it took on the Earl’s name.


However, Montagu technically didn’t invent the food but gets the credit for making it popular and in a way naming it. Bill Wilson in his book Sandwich: A Global History, described people soon started to order “the same as Sandwich” which later shortened simply ordering a “sandwich”.


The creation of Montagu took off immediately and in just a few months, a man named Edward Gibbon coined the name “sandwich” in a diary entry stating that he had seen “twenty or thirty of the first men of the kingdom” eating them in a restaurant.


Montagu’s title lent the preparation cachet, making it fashionable in serving sandwiches in the European continent. Captain James Cook named the Sandwich Isles (Hawaii) after John Montagu, who was his financial sponsor.


Popularity over Continents:

During the 19th century, the sandwich had become popular all over the European continent, especially in England due to the Industrial Revolution, and the world incorporated into the French language as well.


People started demanding for easy to make and easy-to-carry lunches that would keep them full for a long day at work at the office and during hard labor. Every class of people enjoyed sandwiches and are now available in different flavors and kinds and for all situations.


Also Read: History Of Nachos: An Accident Recipe Invention of Tortilla Chips that Shaped the Mexican Delicacy


Since then sandwich was incorporated virtually into every Western cuisine by its simplicity in preparation, portability, and endless variety.


Even the American colonists have taken to the sandwich, however, there does not exist any written records of them. Records are found with the appearance of a sandwich recipe in an American cookbook published it 1815.


However, intellectuals state that sandwich reached to the Americas by an Englishwoman, Elizabeth Leslie, who in her famous 1850 cookbook, Directions for Cookery, In Its Various Branches, described serving ham sandwiches as a main dish.


According to her writing records, sandwiches are prepared by neatly cutting some thin slices of bread, buttering them slightly along with the application of a very little amount of mustard sauce. Slices of thin cold boiled ham are then placed between the two slices, which are either rolled up or served flat on a plate and are served either during supper or lunch.


The final layer of the history of the famous culinary food sandwich is credited to Otto Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa, who invented the bread-slicing machine during the 1920s. Rohwedder’s invention made a life for the homemakers around the world easier and eventually spawned the phrase “the greatest thing since sliced bread”.


Even 23 years after the magical contraption, U.S. Food Administrator Claude Wickard banned the sale of pre-sliced bread. Citing the wartime shortages, Wickard thought the process required excess packaging, however, the ban didn’t last long and was lifted after three months.


Officially, this was done with Wickard's overestimation of the savings that the ban would produce, but in reality, it likely had much do with harsh public outcry.


People found the creation of the culinary dish; the sandwich went unsung for a long period. This is because the early American cooks avoided culinary trends of the British peerage system and it was something that most Americans preferred to forget. Once their memory faded and the sandwich appeared, the most popular version wasn’t ham or turkey, but tongue.


With the advent of technology and coming up with some excellent sandwich ideas, of course, today most Americans would never dream of eating a tongue sandwich. The iconic New Orleans sandwich,