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Food Fun: Old Fashioned Sandwich Recipes For National Sandwich Day

November 3rd is National Sandwich Day. John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, “invented” the first so-named sandwich in 1762; but of course, man had been putting bread together with cheese and other ingredients as soon as they were invented.

Rabbi Hillel the Elder in the 1st century created what we now call a Hillel sandwich in the first century C.E. He sandwiched two Passover foods, maror (horseradish) and charoset (chopped sweet apples and nuts) between two slices of matzoh. He may even have added sliced lamb. The concoction was called a korech. It would be 17 more centuries before “sandwich” appeared in the vocabulary [source].

The Earl of Sandwich was simply in the right place at the right time. The time was Georgian-era England, where no person of means ate ingredients slapped between two slices of bread.

The earl had had the need for “handheld” food to eat while at the card table, so he didn’t have to stop his game in order to eat. He figured that meat between bread would fit the bill. Here’s the history of the sandwich.

Gambling is also the reason sushi was invented—not to be eaten with chopsticks but to be picked up with the fingers.

An Englishwoman, Elizabeth Leslie (1787-1858), introduced the sandwich to America in 1940. Her cookbook, “Directions for Cookery,” has a recipe for ham sandwiches as a main dish:

Cut some thin slices of bread very neatly, having slightly buttered them; and, if your choose, spread on a very little mustard. Have ready some very thin slices of cold boiled ham, and lay one between two slices of bread. You may either roll them up, or lay them flat on the plates. They are used at supper or at luncheon. [source]

Sandwiches became very popular in the U.S. when bakeries began to sell presliced bread. Sandwiches became an easy, portable meal for school children and workers.

By the 1920s, says Food Timeline, “recipes proliferated to the point where entire cookbooks were devoted to this topic.”

Sandwiches were now fare for lunch, tea time, receptions. They could be plain or fancy. Just put a filling between two slices of bread.

The recipes below are from “Seven Hundred Sandwiches” by Florence A Cowles [Little, Brown:Boston] 1928. Ms. Cowles notes in her introduction: “There is a constant and insistent demand for new ideas in sandwiches, new combinations in fillings and new and attractive architectural plans for construction..” (p. v-vii)

Here are descriptions of 20 of the 700 sandwiches. Not surprisingly, some sound quite tasty, some sound good enough, and some thanks-but-no-thanks.

Thanks to Food Timeline for the research.

Mrs. Cowles published her cookbook almost 94 years ago. There are a couple of classics here…and also two very weird ones, in our opinion (check out Crust Butter Sandwich and Tomato Soup Sandwich).

  • Baked Bean Sandwich [Still Served In New England, But Not Mashed]
    “Baked beans ‘as is’ make an excellent sandwich, if mashed and spread smoothly on buttered bread, white or whole-wheat. Or mayonnaise or boiled dressing may be added to them. Adding chopped olives, onions, celery or sweet pickles results in a quite different but equally palatable sandwich.” (p. 124) (photo #1 at right)

  • Banana Sandwich [Still Enjoyed By Some Today]
    “A banana, just that and nothing else, mashed and spread on bread, makes an appetizing sandwich, particularly if made with dark breads. Use no butter.” (p. 140) (photo #2 at right)

  • Beef Jelly Sandwich [Sliced Beef In Aspic]
    “Cook together two medium-sized beef hearts, four pigs’ feet and one medium beef tongue, seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove meat from broth and cut in slices; remove the meat from the pigs’ feet. Arrange in brick pan alternate layers of each, pour over the broth to cover, let cool and keep in ice box. The feet and tongue will make a jelly that will keep the loaf firm. Slices of this make good sandwiches. A little vinegar may be sprinkled over it if a pickled sandwich is preferred. This will keep indefinitely.” (p. 30) (photo #3 at right)

  • Crust Butter Sandwich [A Sandwich Filled With Chopped Bread Crusts]
    “Put the crusts from sandwiches through the food chopper as soon as trimmed. Mix with salad dressing and creamed butter and spread between other slices of bread, thereby avoiding waste. Any desired seasoning may be added.” (p. 109)

  • Cuban Sandwich [When Did Roquefort Become A Cuban Cheese?]
    “Toast thin slices of bread on both sides. Put lettuce leaves and thin slices Roquefort cheese on toast, garnish with chopped nuts. Spread on a layer of cooked salad dressing and cover with another slice of toast. Crusts should be cut from bread before toasting. Eat with knife and fork.” (p. 97)

  • Devildine Sandwich [Early Bizarro Surf & Turf]
    “Remove bones and tails from a medium-sized can of sardines and thin to a paste with lemon juice. Add a small can of deviled ham (not potted ham), one hard-boiled egg, chopped fine, a chopped olive and a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Trim slices of white bread, butter, lay on a lettuce leaf and spread with devildine.” (p. 62-63) (photos #4 and #5 at right)

  • Dixieland Sandwich [So Strange It Might Be Good]
    “Put through the food chopper half a pound of roasted peanuts, three slices of fried bacon and one can pimentos. Mix with salad dressing and use on any preferred kind of bread.” (p. 118)

  • Emergency Sandwich [If Only They’d Substituted Mayo For The PB]
    “Put six sweet pickles through the food chopper, also five hard-boiled eggs. Salt and pepper to taste. Cream two tablespoons of peanut butter and one of prepared mustard and add the pickle and eggs. A little paprika or a dash of vinegar may be added to thin to spreading consistency. Good on rye or whole-wheat bread.” (p. 57)

  • Five Course Sandwich [Award: Creative Thinking]
    “Use alternate rounds of white and whole-wheat bread, diminishing in size as in the Russian Club Sandwich. Each round is buttered. The bottom round is of whole wheat and is spread with a mixture of cream cheese and jam; this is the dessert course. The next round (white bread) is the salad course, spread with tomato and water cress with a little mayonnaise. The meat course is a slice of chicken on a round of whole-wheat bread. The fish course is a round of white bread spread with anchovy paste. The little top round of bread is the canape and is spread with caviar and a little hard-boiled egg; or a slice of deviled egg may be used, or hard-boiled egg and pimento.” (p. 189)

  • Honolulu Sandwich [Maybe As A Tea Sandwich]
    “3/4 cup chopped pulled figs, 1 cup crushed pineapple, 1/3 cup sugar, Juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Cook figs and pineapple until smooth, add sugar and lemon juice and cook until thick. Remove from fire, add walnuts and cool. Spread on thin rounds of whole-wheat bread.” (p. 149)

  • Liverice Sandwich [Chopped Liver With Rice]
    “1 cup rice, 1/2 cup chopped cooked liver, 2 tablespoons butter, Parsley, mace, grated lemon rind. Boil the rice in plenty of hot water to which the salt, mace and a dash of grated lemon peel have been added. When tender, drain and add the chopped liver and butter. Pack in a glass jar and spread when cold on thin slices of bread.” (p. 40) (photo #6)

  • Pigs-in-a-Blanket Sandwich [Sounds Good!]
    “Select as many oysters as you wish sandwiches. Cut an equal number of slices of bacon. Chop one green pepper fine. Place each oyster in a slice of bacon, sprinkle with the green pepper, then fold and fasten with a toothpick. Place in moderately hot frying pan. Have a platter in the warming oven and as each piece of bacon is fired a crisp brown, place on platter. Spread slices of bread lightly with mustard or any other mixture you prefer, then place the bacon between, removing toothpicks. Do not salt the oysters, as the bacon is salt enough.” (p. 73-74) (photo #7)

  • Salmon Bite Sandwich [Nice If You Like Canned Salmon]
    “Remove bones from [canned] red salmon and mix with grated horse-radish. Spread on white or rye bread.” (p. 66) (photo #8)

  • Sardolive Sandwich [A Sardine Sandwich With Olives & Hard Boiled Eggs]
    “Mix equal parts of sardines, chopped olives and hard-boiled egg yolks and season highly with lemon juice, salt and paprika.” (p. 63)

  • Substantial Sandwich [A Classic Fried Egg Sandwich With Tomato]
    “Cut tomatoes in medium-thick slices, sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika. Fry eggs until yolks are hard. Put egg and tomato between thin slices of buttered bread. Boiled or scrambled eggs can be used in the same way.” (p. 54) (photo #10)

  • Tiger Eyes [Serve With The Turtle Sandwich, Below]
    “Cut rounds of white bread with a cutter. Butter the bottom round and spread with seasoned cream cheese. Cut a small circle from center of top round. Place on bottom round and in the center hole fit half a stuffed olive, cut crosswise.” (p. 88)

  • Tomato Soup Sandwich [Even The Campbell’s People Wouldn’t Eat This]
    “Spread rye bread with creamed butter and cover with a leaf of lettuce. Spread undiluted tomato soup, canned, on the lettuce, cover with another leaf and then with another slice of bread.” (p. 133) (photo #11)

  • Tree Sandwich [Ghastly: Chocolate & Parsle!]
    “Cut white bread slices in the shape of a pointed pine tree. Spread the tree part with butter into which finely chopped parsley has been thickly mixed. Pour melted sweet chocolate over the trunk part.” (p. 205)

  • Turtle Sandwich [Still A Farovite With Kids]
    “Cut as many thin slices of brown and white bread as you desire sandwiches. Trim off crust and shape into three and one-half inch squares. Butter lightly and spread with any desired filling. Slice small cucumber pickles lengthwise and stick one piece in each corner of the sandwich for the feet of the turtle and a tiny one for the tail. Run a toothpick through a narrow, short piece of bread and stick it in the opposite end from the tail. On the end of the toothpick put a thin slice of a small carrot, cut crosswise. And there’s your turtle.” (p. 200)

  • Tutti Fruitti Sandwich [Good For Dessert]
    “1/4 cup dates, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/4 cup dry figs, 1/4 cup walnut meats, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1/2 cup whipped cream, 1/4 cup sugar or more. Put fruits and nuts through food chopper. Mix with orange juice. Mix with whipped cream and sugar. Use between thin buttered slices of bread.” (p. 144-145)

    So…will you make one of these, or return to a good old BLT?


    [1] A modern baked bean sandwich doesn’t mash the beans. Here’s the recipe (photo © New England Today | Aimee Seavey).

    [2] A mashed banana sandwich doesn’t look as appealing as today’s sliced banana and peanut butter version. Here’s a modern recipe (photo © Life Needs Sweets).

    [3] A beef jelly sandwich is beef in aspect, sliced onto bread instead of onto salad greens. Here’s more about different meat aspics (photo © Vintage Recipes & Cookery).

    [4] We can’t quite imagine mixing a can of sardines with a can of deviled ham… (photo © La Tienda).

    [5] …but we’re willing to try it if someone wants to join us. Here’s more about deviled ham (photo © New England Today | Aimee Seavey).

    [6] This chopped liver sandwich is a big improvement over the Liverice. Hold the rice, add onions and hard-boiled eggs (photo © Katz’s Delicatessen).

    [7] Before the arrival of cocktail franks, “pigs in a blanket” referred to oysters and bacon. Here they are, looking delicious as is. Why would you want to put them in a sandwich with mustard (photo © Aquaculture Association Of Nova Scotia)?

    [8] Make a sandwich with canned salmon. Here’s a recipe (photo © Jenny Can Cook).

    [10] A classic: fried egg sandwich with tomato (photo © Cracker Barrel).

    [11] Would you put the contents of this can onto bread and lettuce (photo Larry Lamsa CC-BY-2.0 License).




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