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The Gamble Behind the Invention of the Sandwich

The sandwich was invented out of pure necessity during a gambling bender.


Sandwich with cheese, tomato and lettuce.

The story of the invention of the sandwich is often attributed to John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, in the 18th century. According to the popular version of the story, John Montagu was an avid gambler. Facing the predicament of not wanting to interrupt his games, he instructed his servants to place some slices of meat between two pieces of bread. This allowed him to hold the meal in one hand while he continued to play with the other. This innovative creation came to be known as the sandwich, named after the Earl himself.


While the story of the Earl of Sandwich's inventive meal is well-known, it's important to recognize that the concept of using bread as a convenient way to hold ingredients was not entirely new. People had been consuming meals that combined bread and various fillings for centuries across different cultures. The ancient Greeks, for instance, are known to have wrapped meat and vegetables in flatbreads, while the Jewish Passover tradition of Hillel sandwiches dates back even further.


What sets Montagu's contribution apart is how it popularized the term "sandwich" and solidified the idea in Western culinary consciousness. The convenience and versatility of the concept meant that it quickly caught on, evolving beyond its origins and inspiring countless variations across the world.

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