History of Sandwiches - America's Favorite Sandwiches
© copyright 2004 by Linda Stradley - United States Copyright TX 5-900-517- All rights reserved. This web site may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission and appropriate credit given. If you quote any of the history information contained below for research in writing a magazine or newspaper article, school work or college research, and/or television show production, you must give a reference to the author, Linda Stradley, and to the web site What's Cooking America.
6th to 16th Century - During the Middle Ages, thick blocks of coarse stale bread called trenchers were used in place of plates. Meats and other foods were piled on top of the bread to be eaten with their fingers and sometimes with the aid of knives. The trenchers, thick and stale, absorbed the juice, the grease, and the sauces. At the end of the meal, one either ate the trencher or, if hunger had been satisfied, tossed the gravy-soaked bread to their dogs or given as alms to less fortunate or poor human. Alms were clothing, food, or money that is given to poor people: In the past, people thought it was their religious duty to give alms to the poor. Trenchers were clearly the forerunner of our open-face sandwiches.
16th and 17 Century - In Mark Morton's well researched 2004 article Bread and Meat for God's Sake, he wrote:
1762 - The first written record of the word "sandwich" appeared in Edward Gibbons (1737-1794), English author, scholar, and historian, journal on November 24, 1762. Gibbon recorded his surprise at seeing a score or two of the noblest and wealthiest in the land, seated in a noisy coffee-room, at little tables covered by small napkins, supping off cold meat or sandwiches, and finishing with strong punch and confused politics.
The Cocoa Tree, located at Pall Mall and St. James's Street, was a fashionable gentlemen's gaming club in London in the 18th century. Gaming houses in London were for the chosen few, where men of common tastes and of one class might meet together. In 1746 the Cocoa-tree Club became the haunt of politicians, particularly Tories, who met there under the guise of taking chocolate in order to hatch political plots. After 1750, only the more modest establishments survived, frequented by the public at large. The most select chocolate houses became private clubs, strictly limited to gentlemen from the ranks of high society.
1762 - It is also said that the cooks at London’s Beef Steak Club, a gentlemen's gaming club held at the Shakespeare Tavern, invented the first sandwich.
The sublime society of Beef-steaks' was very exclusive, limited to 24 members. The Prince of Wales became its 25th member. They dined off beef-steaks accompanied by generous amounts of port and arrack-punch. The members met at 5 o'clock on Saturday's from November until the end of June. Each member could also invite a friend.
John Montague (1718-1792), the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, He became First Lord of the Admiralty and was patron to Capt. James Cook (who explored New Zealand, Australia, Alaska, Hawaii, and Polynesia.). Capt. Cook named the Hawaiian Islands after him, calling them the Sandwich Island. Montague Island, a large island at the entrance to Prince William Sound on the Gulf of Alaska, was also named by the famed Captain Cook.
Montague was a hardened gambler and usually gambled for hours at a time at this restaurant, sometimes refusing to get up even for meals. It is said that ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread. Because Montague also happened to be the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, others began to order "the same as Sandwich!" The original sandwich was, in fact, a piece of salt beef between two slices of toasted bread.
1765 - John Montague's biographer, N. A. M. Rodger, points out in the book, The Insatiable Earl - A Life of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, that the sole source for giving Montague credit for the invention of the sandwich, was gossip mentioned in a travel book by Grosley, and that at the period in question 1765, he was known to be very busy, and it is just as likely that it was for the purpose of eating at his desk. The book states:
It remains to consider the circumstances of the invention of the sandwich, which modern works suppose to have been designed to sustain its creator through long nights at the gaming table. The origin of this story seems to be a passage in Grosley's Tour to London:
1840 - The sandwich was introduced to America by Englishwoman Elizabeth Leslie (1787-1858). In her cookbook, Directions for Cookery, she has a recipe for ham sandwiches that she suggested as a main dish.
1900's - The sandwich became very popular in the American diet when bakeries started selling pre-sliced bread, thus making sandwiches very easy to create. Sandwiches became an easy, portable meal for workers and school children alike.
A Brief History of the Canfield Casino,
Atlas of Popular Culture in the Northeastern United States, The Spiedie - a "Tasty Morsel", by John E. Harmon.
Beyond the Ice Cream Cone - The Whole Scoop on food at the 1904 World's Fair, by Pamela J. Vaccaro, Enid Press, St. Louis, 2004.
Hoagie History, Wawa Food Markets.
I'll Have What They're Having - Legendary Local Cuisine, by Linda Stradley, published ThreeForks, Guilford, Connecticut, 2002.
Library of Congress Information Bulletin, Blondie Gets Married!, Library Exhibition Celebrates Work of Chic Young, June 2000, by Sara W. Duke.
Marie's Melting Pot, Sicilian Style Cooking, by Marie Lupo Tusa, The Spielman Company, 1980.
Rare Bits - Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, publined by Ohio University Press, 1998.
Rose V. Ferlita, About Rose, History of the Ferlita Bakery.
Seven Hundred Sandwiches, Florenece A. Cowles 
The Camberley Brown Hotel, Fourth & Broadway, Louisville, KY.
The Ferlita Bakery, Centro Ybor.
The Food Chronology, by James Trager, published by Henry Holt and Company, 1995.
The Great Sandwich Book, by Anita Borghese, Rawson Associates Publishers, Inc., New York, 1978.
The Insatiable Earl, Fourth Earl of Sandwich 1718-1792, by N.A.M. Rodger, W.W. Norton, 1994
The New Orleans Cookbook, by Rima & Richard Collin, published by Alfred A. Knofp, 1975.
The Primal Cheeseburger - A Generous Helping of food History Served Up on a Bun, by Elisabeth Rozin, Penquin Books, 1994.
What's a Spiedie?, Sam A. Lupo & Sons, Inc.
Whole foods Companion - A guide For Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers & Lovers of Natural Foods, by Dianne Onstad, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1996.
World's Greatest Peanut Butter Cookbook, by Linda Romanelli Leahy with Jack Maguire, Villard Books, New York, 1994.
Ybor City State Museum: A Statement About Heritage, by Richard L. Servis Jr., The Carefree Traveler Magazine.
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For a detailed history of the following individual types of sandwiches, click on the underlined: