What is a Sandwich?

A sandwich is a food item that typically consists of one or more types of food, such as vegetables, sliced cheese or meat, placed on or between slices of bread, or more generally any dish wherein bread serves as a container or wrapper for another food type.

Sandwiches are a popular type of lunch food, taken to work, school, or picnics to be eaten as part of a packed lunch. The bread may be plain or be coated with condiments, such as mayonnaise or mustard, to enhance its flavor and texture. As well as being homemade, sandwiches are also widely sold in various retail outlets and can be served hot or cold.

There are both savory sandwiches, such as deli meat sandwiches, and sweet sandwiches, such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

History of the Sandwich

The modern concept of a sandwich using slices of bread as found within the West can arguably be traced to 18th-century Europe. However, the use of some kind of bread or bread-like substance to lie under (or under and over) some other food, or used to scoop up and enclose or wrap some other type of food, long predates the eighteenth century, and is found in numerous much older cultures worldwide.

The ancient Jewish sage Hillel the Elder is said to have wrapped meat from the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs in a soft matzah—flat, unleavened bread—during Passover in the manner of a modern wrap made with flatbread. Flat breads of only slightly varying kinds have long been used to scoop or wrap small amounts of food en route from platter to mouth throughout Western Asia and northern Africa. From Morocco to Ethiopia to India, bread is usually baked in flat rounds, contrasting with the European loaf tradition.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, thick slabs of coarse and usually stale bread, called “trenchers,” were used as plates. After a meal, the food-soaked trencher was fed to a dog or to beggars at the tables of the wealthy, and eaten by diners in more modest circumstances. The immediate culinary precursor with a direct connection to the English sandwich was to be found in the Netherlands of the seventeenth century, where the naturalist John Ray observed that in the taverns beef hung from the rafters “which they cut into thin slices and eat with bread and butter laying the slices upon the butter”—explanatory specifications that reveal the Dutch belegde broodje, open-faced sandwich, was as yet unfamiliar in England.

Initially perceived as food that men shared while gaming and drinking at night, the sandwich slowly began appearing in polite society as a late-night meal among the aristocracy. The sandwich is named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, an eighteenth-century English aristocrat. It is commonly said that Lord Sandwich, during long sessions of cribbage and other card games at public gambling houses, would order his valet to bring him salt beef between two pieces of toasted bread. He was fond of this form of food because it allowed him to continue gambling while eating, without the need for a fork, and without getting his cards greasy from eating meat with his bare hands. The dish then grew in popularity in London, and Sandwich’s name became associated with it.

The popularity of sandwiches in Spain and England increased dramatically during the nineteenth century, when the rise of industrial society and the working classes made fast, portable, and inexpensive meals essential. In London, for example, at least seventy street vendors were selling ham sandwiches by 1850; during that decade sandwich bars also became an important form of eating establishment in western Holland, typically serving liver and salt beef sandwiches.

In the US, the sandwich was first promoted as an elaborate meal at supper. By the early 20th century, as bread became a staple of the American diet, the sandwich became the same kind of popular, quick meal as was already widespread in the Mediterranean.

Etymology of the Word “Sandwich”

According to the story, following the Earl of Sandwich’s request for beef between two slices of bread, his friends began to order “the same as Sandwich”. The first written usage of the English word appeared in Edward Gibbon’s journal, in longhand, referring to “bits of cold meat” as a “Sandwich”.

Before being known as sandwiches, this food combination seems to have been known as “bread and meat” or “bread and cheese”. These two phrases are found throughout English drama from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Types of Sandwiches

There are many different types of sandwiches, each with its own unique flavor and ingredients. Some of the most popular types of sandwiches include:

  • Deli sandwiches: These sandwiches are typically made with sliced deli meat, cheese, and vegetables on a sub roll or hero roll.
  • Grilled sandwiches: These sandwiches are made with two slices of bread that are grilled together with cheese and other fillings in between.
  • Open-faced sandwiches: These sandwiches are made with a single slice of bread that is topped with various ingredients, such as meat, cheese, or vegetables.
  • Tea sandwiches: These sandwiches are small, delicate sandwiches that are often served at tea parties. They are typically made with thin slices of bread and fillings such as cucumber, cream cheese, or smoked salmon.

Sandwich Fillings

The fillings used in sandwiches are endless, and can be tailored to suit any taste. Some of the most popular sandwich fillings include:

  • Meat: Ham, turkey, chicken, roast beef, pastrami, corned beef, bacon, sausage, etc.
  • Cheese: Cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, provolone, pepper jack, etc.
  • Vegetables: Lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, peppers, avocado, sprouts, etc.
  • Condiments: Mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, relish, pickles, etc.

How to Make a Sandwich

Making a sandwich is a simple process that can be completed in just a few minutes. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Choose your bread. The type of bread you use will depend on the type of sandwich you are making. For example, a sub roll or hero roll is a good choice for a deli sandwich, while two slices of white bread are a good choice for a grilled cheese sandwich.
  2. Add your fillings. Once you have chosen your bread, it is time to add your fillings. The fillings you use will depend on your personal preferences.
  3. Assemble your sandwich. Once you have added your fillings, it is time to assemble your sandwich. Simply place the two slices of bread together, with the fillings in between.
  4. Enjoy! Your sandwich is now ready to eat. Enjoy!

Sandwich Variations

There are many different variations on the classic sandwich. Some of the most popular variations include:

  • Wraps: Wraps are made with a tortilla or flatbread that is wrapped around fillings.
  • Paninis: Paninis are grilled sandwiches that are pressed with a panini press.
  • Subs: Subs are long sandwiches that are made with a sub roll or hero roll.
  • Burgers: Burgers are sandwiches that are made with a ground beef patty.
  • Tacos: Tacos are Mexican sandwiches that are made with a corn tortilla.

Sandwich Tips

Here are a few tips for making the perfect sandwich:

  • Use fresh ingredients. The fresher your ingredients, the better your sandwich will taste.
  • Don’t overload your sandwich. Too many fillings will make your sandwich difficult to eat.
  • Be creative. There are no rules when it comes to making sandwiches. Experiment with different fillings and combinations to find your favorite sandwich.
  • Enjoy! Sandwiches are a delicious and versatile food that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

What is a Sandwich?


What is the definition of a sandwich in food?

1. a. : two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between. b. : one slice of bread covered with food.

What is considered a sandwich?

Merriam-Webster defines a “sandwich” to be “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between” or “one slice of bread covered with food.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg even weighed-in on the topic, stating that under Stephen Colbert’s definition of a “sandwich,” a hot dog is indeed a sandwich.

What are the three types of sandwiches?

Types of sandwiches include: Closed-two pieces of bread with filling in between. Open-faced-one piece of bread with the fillings put on top. Finger Sandwiches-small fancy closed sandwiches in shapes, the crusts are usually cut off.

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