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Who actually invented the sandwich?

We all know the sandwich – that classic lunchtime staple made up of bread and fillings. But who actually invented this beloved food? Let’s take a look at the history of the sandwich and find out!

For those who love deli sandwiches, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Earl of Sandwich from way back in 1762. The first recorded sandwich was made for John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who as a compulsive gambler didn’t want to take too long from his card game to eat dinner. So instead, he asked his servants to bring him two slices of bread filled with meat – and so the sandwich was born! It’s amazing how something as simple as two slices of bread could have such an impact on history. Who knew that deli sandwiches would one day become a much-loved snack around the world? Not the 4th Earl of Sandwich…but we can thank him all the same!

John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich

John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich

Where did the sandwich get invented?

Sandwich is a town in southeastern England in the historic county of Kent.

As Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and the Earl of Sandwich didn’t want to take a break from his game in order to fill his stomach. He needed something he could eat with one hand that wasn’t too messy. Now over 260 years later, we can hardly imagine our lives without the option of grabbing a sandwich for breakfast, lunch or dinner! The ease and convenience, not to mention the deliciousness, of sandwiches is a beautiful staple in our lives. And the flavor combinations are near-endless, only bound by the limits of our (hungry) imagination.

What was the first sandwich ever made?

The original Earl’s sandwich is a simple, yet now legendary, combination of salted beef and bread. This initial recipe continues to please taste buds even in the 21st century, but often we can’t help but embellish it with condiments, veggies, or cheese. Whether you crave thick slices of juicy beef like its creator or prefer another variation of sandwich, we can all say that there’s something about taking that first bite of a hunger-busting creation sandwiched between bread.

Why is it called sandwich?

The Earl’s stroke of genius prompting the creation of the sandwich grew in popularity among the aristocracy of the day and eventually took the name of its inventor. We do give credit to his cook first, though sadly his/her name is unknown. 

We’d be remiss not to admit that surely Mr. Montagu was the first person to consider sandwiching (yes, his name is a verb too!) delicious ingredients between two slices of bread. Ancient Jewish texts mention that Hillel the Elder, a rabbi and scholar, made a sandwich of traditional Paschal lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened matzah bread during the annual Passover Seder meal in Jerusalem in the first century B.C. With such a long sandwich history, is it any wonder that many of the best delis have their roots in the Jewish community!

Chief Reuben Sandwich

East Bay Deli’s Chief Reuben Sandwich

Initially sandwiches were seen more in restaurants than in recipe books and the common kitchen. The 1800’s saw the various sandwiches arise, notably Oyster Loaves which later evolved into the Po’Boy, a New Orleans favorite and the classic ham sandwich. Sandwiches began to morph from simple to more complex, especially at the start of the 1900’s. At the same time, with the introduction of sliced bread on grocery store shelves, the sandwich became exponentially more accessible to families and non-restaurant goers. Pre-packaged sliced bread made it easier for busy housewives to assemble a quick and complete meal to enjoy with the family or pack for lunches. 

There are many different types of sandwiches now, from classic PB&J and grilled cheese to triple-decker deli sandwiches stacked high with your favorite meats, cheeses, and toppings. Have you seen East Bay Deli’s Dixie Darling?? 

Dixie Darling at east bay deli

East Bay Deli’s Chief ReuDixie Darling Sandwich at East Bay Deliben Sandwich

And who doesn’t love customizing their own sandwich? When that late night craving hits, some of the most inventive creations are born. Gone are the days where you have to settle for a boring sandwich. Red pepper relish, avocado, sprouts, pickled jalapenos, or spicy cheese, the imaginative additions add an extra zing for your taste buds to explore. Even the classic Club sandwich now has a unique spin on it depending on the creative chef behind it. Plus, enjoy your ‘wich cold or have it toasted until warm and gooey. It could make all the difference! 

Whether you like them simple or complex, there’s a sandwich out there for everyone to enjoy.

They come in all shapes and sizes. The best are from a new york style deli, of course, namely from East Bay Deli, who has been serving up DELIcious sandwich creations in South Carolina since 2001. And if you don’t find what you need from our Favorites menu, why not create your own unique combination? The possibilities are endless – take two slices of your choice of bread and make it your own. Feed Your Belly with something truly mouth-watering and satisfying! 

New York Yankee sandwich

East Bay Deli’s New York Yankee Sandwich

The next time you are looking for a quick and tasty meal, remember the sandwich. And if you’re in the mood for something truly special, be sure to check out East Bay Deli. With locations all in Columbia, Irmo, Charleston, and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, we’re the New York deli-style shop you’re looking for to satisfy that craving. We’ve got all of your favorites, plus some new and exciting flavors that you’re sure to enjoy. So what are you waiting for? Come on in and order yourself a sandwich today! Make it even easier and order ahead on the app for a quick pick up option.

For a detailed timeline of sandwich history, click here: