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Apr 29, 2010 12:16 PM

Who really invented the sandwich.

So we've all heard the story of how the sandwich was invented. The Earl of Sandwich (in England) was attending a card-game tournament. He was hungry, but wanted to continue playing while eating, so he needed both hands to stay clean and he needed one hand free to hold up the cards. So he told one of the servants to fetch him some slices of roast beef and put them between two slices of bread. The other royals noted this and eventually started ordering "what the Earl of Sandwich came up with". Eventually they just started calling it a sandwich. And thus was born the sandwich.

Awesome story. But here's the thing. The Mexicans/Aztecs/Mayans/peoples of Central America had been holding food in tortilla wrappers for years. They used corn tortillas and filled them with the ingredients they had, like avocados, turkey, squash, fish, etc. But they wraps/sandwiches any way you slice it. So you could most certainly say that they were the first inventors of the wrap. But depending on how you define it, or what you choose as the main defining characteristic, a wrap is just a kind of sandwich. If you focus on the convenience of the food; that they provide you with a dry, edible surface to hold to allow you to eat a variety of things but not get your fingers wet/greasy, then a wrap and a sandwich are just two forms of the same thing. And in both cases this convenience seems to be the driving force behind the invention and subsequent popularity of these foods.

So what does everybody think?

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  1. Well. it's obviously tosh that it was the Earl of Sandwich who "invented" it - the name only caught on because he was a toff. We've been eating "stuff with bread" as long as there's been bread and stuff, not least as in the trencher.

    1. The cave drawings of Lascaux feature a commuter eating a "sandwich"

      1 Reply
      1. re: beevod

        I remember seeing a documentary on the Nazca, Peru line drawings - the drawings only legible from the sky, not discernible from the ground. One of those is believed to be a sandwich, which puzzle scientists to this day.
        Of course more extreme theories say this sandwich came from space aliens.

      2. The original comment has been removed
          1. re: Kholvaitar

            Probably not ham and cheese....:)
            I'll go with Earl.

          2. How come we don't call it an earl?

            1 Reply