The British Sandwich Association (I’ll let that sink in for a moment … they even have a website) has designated this week as the 250th anniversary of the sandwich.
This week, in 1762, is the earliest recorded mention of a sandwich, found in the journals of Edward Gibbon. John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, was hungry but didn’t want to interrupt his card game, so he ordered beef between two slices of bread and kept on playing. His companions–no doubt after murmuring “Wot, wot?! Sandwich, you rogue!” and screwing their monocles back in–ordered the same, and a trend was begun.
The BSA offers the following official definition of a sandwich: “Any form of bread with a filling, generally assembled cold – to include traditional wedge sandwiches, as well as filled rolls, baguettes, pitta, bloomers, wraps, bagels and the like, but not burgers and other products assembled and consumed hot. Hot eating sandwiches are also included.” (I’m sure it took weeks in committee, multiple studies, and various fact-finding trips to hammer that one out.) And here’s a nice little supplement from the BSA extolling the wonders of all things sandwichy.
Did Montague–a prominent member of the pseudo-pagan Hellfire Club and noted roue–invent the Sandwich? Of course not, but he’s the one we remember, and it sure beats just calling it “stuff on bread.”