I am quite sure that the eighteenth century Earl of Sandwich, Lord John Montagu, would have been alarmed to discover that despite his long and varied career as a statesman, as Director General of the Post, First Lord of the Admiralty and State Secretary of the Northern Department, he had been immortalized. For something completely different…as the inventor of the sandwich!
The idea of using flat bread with toppings or fillings has been around for thousands of years, particularly in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. There are even records going back to 2200 BC of early forms of pizza in ancient Egypt in the form of flat bread topped with bench Spread.
So why is the idea of two slices of bread with a filling named after Earl? The term “sandwich” was first used in a 1762 memoir written by Edward Gibbon. A few years later Pierre-Jeanne Grosley wrote London tour After visiting London in 1765. It included what is now seen as an explanation of the sandwich’s name:
“The Secretary of State spent twenty-four hours at a general game table, so absorbed in the game, that all the time, he had only enough beef, between two slices of toast, which he (sic) eats without ever getting out of the game. He grew This new dish was significantly new during my stay in London: it was named after the Minister, who invented it.”
After studying at Eton and Cambridge, the 4th Earl of Sandwich went on a grand tour of Europe and even visited the Ottoman Empire, including parts of modern Greece, Turkey, and Egypt. On his journey, he may have encountered flatbread with its different toppings.
An incessantly famous gambler, legend has it that during one of the games he asked to bring two slices of bread filled with meat so he could keep playing. It was such a convenient solution that others soon started ordering a “sandwich”! So, while the Earl of Sandwich didn’t actually invent the sandwich, it seems to have made a huge impact on its popularity and, of course, took his name.
Nowadays, the sandwich market is said to be worth over $20 billion in the United States alone, and we’re all familiar with classics like the grilled cheese sandwich, BLT, club sandwich, or even peanut butter and jelly. By the mid-19th century, the term had become so popular that it was used as a verb to describe falling between two people or things. Sandwiches became more popular when Iowa-born Otto Roehweeder invented the commercial bread slicer in 1928.
Top image: Main: John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, portrait. ( public domain ). Inset: sandwich. source: Mikhailovsky / Adobe Stock
By Cecilia Bogard