The good old sandwich has become something of a British dietary staple that appears in everything from the delicious afternoon tea to the daily office lunch. Whether you take yours with or without crusts, on white, brown or baguette, filled with luxurious lobster or plain old pate, made fresh in front of you or bought in a packet, the sandwich is something we have all grown to know and love. But how much do you really know about this humble snack?
1. The UK sandwich industry is a big earner and employs more people than the British agricultural industry.
2. Meat is by far the most popular sandwich filling for Brits, and chicken is the most popular meat, with 68,000 tonnes of it consumed last year. For non-meat lovers, the most popular filling is cheese.
3. London is the most expensive place to buy a sandwich, and 19% of all sandwiches are purchased in the country’s capital.
4. The sandwich gets its name from the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was the inventor of the Bready feast all the way back in 1762. The Earl was something of a gambler and didn’t want to take a break from winning to eat, so he asked for ‘cuts of beef ‘ in two slices of toasted bread, and so the sandwich was born! At least born into polite society, as it is likely that peasants ate sandwiches long before this.
5. The most expensive sandwich in the world was sold on eBay in 2006. The top-of-the-range sarnie fetched £345 and contained white Umbrian truffles, red velvet organic beetroot, slow-cooked vine cherry tomatoes in extra virgin white truffle oil and Leagram organic creamy Lancashire cheese.
6. Last year, more than £6,000,000,000 worth of sandwiches were purchased in the UK. These mainly were bought from retail and catering outfits – how many do you think were yours?
7. 24 – 54-year-olds are the biggest scoffers of sandwiches in the UK, despite the fact that most of the sandwiches we consume are actually made at home (3.2 billion were taken out of the house in lunch boxes last year) rather than purchased from shops. In the battle of the sexes, men are more ardent sandwich lovers than women, scoffing down 55% of them.
8. It may surprise you to learn that the biggest sandwich retailer in the UK is actually not high street pasty specialist Greggs or luxury food chain Marks & Spencer, and not even Tesco, but American sandwich giant Subway.
9. Roberts Bakery in Norwich is reputed to be the creator of the largest ever pre-packed sandwich, which weighed the same as 1,000 loaves of bread. The 2.5-metre long sarnie was filled with marmite, mayo and tuna and was packed in 1/2″ thick Perspex packaging.
10. Although we might all think that in the cold winter weather, we’d instead be consuming something hot and hearty like soup or a pie, more sandwiches are actually consumed during the winter than summer months.
These ten interesting facts about sandwiches may have changed your view of the humble sarnie, or they might have given you an appetite. Next time that you chow down on your cheese and pickle on white, or your BLT, you’ll know that you’re in good company!