Sandwich: A Global History

Fifty notable sandwiches, with text from a new book on the classic foodstuff.


in Archive


Portable, quick, satisfying, cheap and requiring neither plate nor cutlery, the sandwich is the most universal of all fast food, the archetypal hand-held snack. With the exception of people who don’t eat bread, for whatever reason, all of us eat sandwiches – and in an unusually wide range of contexts. They are eaten by school children and High Court judges, by soldiers and pacifists, by busy call-centre workers and leisurely picnickers. They are eaten in hospital wards, in prisons, in the lounges of four-star hotels and at the kitchen table. The sandwich is simply the quickest way of making a meal. We may speak and dream of other foods; we may pontificate on banquets and gastronomy; but a lot of the time, if we are honest, what we are really eating is sandwiches.

“Sandwiches in the twenty-first century,” writes the food historian Andrew F. Smith, “are consumed in some form in almost every country in the world.”