The most sophisticated bread is always the upper crust...

November 7, 2019
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In Celebration of Sandwiches

What defines a sandwich? It’s the only philosophical question that we really care about. Certainly when lunchtime rolls on round. The dictionary definition certifies that a sandwich needs to be two (or more) slices of bread served as a ‘container or wrapper’ for another food type.

This seems a bit dull. After all, us Brits eat around 11.5 billion of the things per year. That’s roughly 31,000,000 per day. A sandwich should be much more than just that. A sandwich should have soul, and we aren’t the only people to think as such. Last Sunday was National Sandwich Day, highlighting the people’s adoration for the world’s greatest foodstuffs. So, in celebration, we’ve gone digging for bread-based facts to tantalise your taste buds.

The Origins

One of the grandest tales around the creation of our favourite lunch food is attributed to John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. The commonly known story finds Montagu at his card table hosting a high-stakes game. As a member of the Hellfire club, should he have lost the hand, there would be ‘interesting’ consequences.

Famished and in dire need of food, but unwilling to step away from the table, he ordered his servants to bring a suitable meal to the table – two slices of bread with salted beef between them.

Other people, according to the history books, began to order ‘the same as Sandwich!’, before the meal was shortened to how we use it today. A ‘Tuna Montagu’ doesn’t quite have the same ring about it.

However, there is debate on how true this story is. As Montagu was a fastidious worker, historians argue that the 4th Earl of Sandwich actually ate the invention at his desk.

Montagu was a popular man, and was particularly close with Captain James Cook. As such, when exploring the Americas and beyond, Cook dedicated some land to the Earl of Sandwich. John Montagu has several islands named after him off the coast of Hawaii.

However, that’s not the only place with Sandwich in the name…

It’s all in the name…

There is the Civil Parish of Sandwich in Kent, England. Besides offering a railway station and a museum, the world’s greatest road sign also resides nearby.

There is a hamlet to the south in close proximity called Ham. A fingerpost in the hamlet of West Street points towards both towns, making for an immortal road sign that you can see on the left of your screen.

You couldn’t make it up.

World’s most expensive sandwich

The Quintessential Grilled Cheese at New York’s uber-expensive Serendipity 3 restaurant features bread made with Dom Pérignon champagne, gold flakes, and truffle butter.

Cost? Well, this toasted sandwich will set you back $214 (£167.16/€193.18). That’s not quite the most expensive sandwich to have changed hands, however…

Mary on toast

That award goes to the Virgin Mary – a $28k grilled cheese thought to have the image of Mary (Jesus’ mother) showcased on the surface.

Diane Duyser noticed the image toasted into her bread just as she was about to eat the sandwich back in the autumn of 1994. Keeping the food sealed away, she eventually sold it to a Canadian casino through an online auction site – eBay – for $28,000.

Failed Record

Iran backed an eccentric bid to set a world record for the largest ever Ostrich sandwich in October 2008. However, things got out of hand and a large group of hungry spectators began to attack the food beyond control. Within minutes, the sandwich was gone.

As soon as the food – 1500 meters in length and containing 1000 kg of ostrich meat – was completed and presented to Guinness Book of World Records’ judges, chaotic scenes ensued leaving everyone bewildered and unsure if a new standard had been set.

Elvis Presley

Think you enjoy one particular kind of sandwich? Not as much as The King. Elvis Presley once flew from Memphis to Denver and back – all in one night during summer 1976 – on his private jet (the Lisa Marie) just to pick up a Fool’s Gold Loaf – an eye-watering 8,000 calorie creation. That sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen.

Crafted from a hollowed out loaf of bread, filled with an entire jar of peanut butter, one jar of jelly, and a pound of bacon, the concoction very quickly became known as the ‘Legend’.

The UK’s best selling sandwich is…

The Top Four brands in terms of product sales (gross sales, according to our data) are:

  • Deli Choice
  • Euro Shopper
  • Snacks on the go
  • Attack a Snack

The Top Flavour in terms of item sales (gross sale) are:

  • Tuna Mayo
  • Chicken and Bacon
  • Spicy Chicken
  • Ham and Cheese

The products sold in the most stores (store count):
1.Euro shopper Sandwich Ham Price marked £1.00
2.Snacks on the go Ham & Cheese Sandwich Price Marked £1.39
3.Rustlers Chicken Sandwich Price Marked £1.50

For more information on UK sandwich sales, get in touch with our data team.

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