Thanksgiving is a good day for talking turkey, but on National Sandwich Day in early November, roast beef and ham also get their due.
National Sandwich Day always falls on Nov. 3, the birthday of John Montagu. You may not recognize the English nobleman’s name, but his title might mean something to you: Fourth Earl of Sandwich.
While that might sound like a fancy title for someone who defeats Jethro’s Emmenecker Challenge, Sandwich is actually a historic town in southeast England. Montagu picked up the title at the age of 10 in 1729, from his grandfather, Edward Montagu.
How Did One Our Favorite Lunch Foods Get The Name Sandwich?
So how did Sandwich, the title, become the name of , the lunch? There are two prevailing theories. In one, Montagu was a committed gambler and would order meat served between two slices of bread so he could eat while playing cards. The other is less salacious, but follows the same theme: he was so dedicated to his work with the Royal Navy that he needed a meal that was easy to consume at his work desk.
Despite the Hawaiian Islands briefly being known as “Sandwich Islands” in their honor, the Montagu family will forever be tied to John’s famous invention. The 11th (and current) Earl of Sandwich, John Edward Hollister Montagu, has licensed his title to the sandwich shop Earl of Sandwich.
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data saying nearly half of all Americans eat a sandwich for lunch every day. The website FiveThirtyEight broke down the findings with a chart of the 25 most common sandwich fillings, with lettuce, mayonnaise tomatoes being the top three ingredients in American sandwiches. Meat makes its first appearance at No. 6 in the form of sliced ham. American is the most popular cheese, and bacon comes in at a shockingly low No. 25, below things like bologna, tuna salad whole fried eggs.
Here at Blue Compass, we have our own Earls of Sandwich. President Drew Harden has been known to make a week’s worth of sandwiches at a time (to be parceled out as needed, not consumed en masse). The other is Stephen Crane, a front-end developer at Blue Compass.
As you might expect from someone in his position, Crane enjoys sandwiches because they let him tweak the ingredients, creating a unique experience with each meal.
Crane says the key to a good sandwich is starting with the base: meat. Crane describes himself as a “hardcore ham advocate,” though roast beef is a close second.
Artisan bread is Crane’s choice for containing meat, finding many options at Hy-Vee. But if you want to use fancier bread, you need to plan accordingly.
“It can bite because some of the nicer bread spoils really quickly,” Crane said. “It can be hard to use it all up.”
One of Crane’s favorite tips is stashing sandwich makings in the fridge at work. That way, instead of having toppings and condiments smearing together all day, your sandwich stays nice and fresh. It also saves you a few extra minutes in the morning.
So how is Crane marking National Sandwich day?
“I will definitely consume a sandwich, maybe of my own making.”