307/365: National Sandwich Day

You can relax if your wallet has only a few dollars in it today: it doesn’t take a lot of bread in order to enjoy today’s food holiday. Two slices, to be exact. November 3 is National Sandwich Day!

Fittingly, this holiday is celebrated on the birthday of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich. According to legend, this 18th century English aristocrat was an avid gambler who didn’t want to waste precious cribbage-playing time by putting down his cards to eat. So he instructed his servants to bring him meat tucked between two slices of bread, allowing him to eat his meal with one hand, and preventing his cards from getting greasy. Impressed with the portability and convenience of this meal, others began ordering “the same as Sandwich,” and the name stuck. While sandwiches got their name from the Earl, he was not the actual inventor; it is believed that Hillel the Elder, an ancient Jewish sage who passed away in 10 A.D., first took lamb and herbs and stuffed them between two slices of matzah during Passover to create the first true sandwich. During the Middle Ages, thick slices of bread – often stale – were used as plates for meat and other foods. After the meal, the food-soaked scraps of bread (known as “trenchers”) were fed to dogs. Or beggars. As lowly a practice as this was, it laid the groundwork for what we refer to today as open-faced sandwiches. Later still, in the 17th century, beef hanging from the rafters of taverns in the Netherlands was sliced into strips and served atop buttered bread. Here’s a great article that takes a look at the 50 greatest sandwiches of all time.

Narrowing down what type of sandwich to eat today was tricky, given the wide variety of available options. I just happened to be running to a little market/restaurant in Portland to pick something up, and they had a deli counter with a handful of sandwiches available. My favorite type of sandwich is tuna, so I ordered theirs; it contained Oregon coast tuna, Mama Lil’s bread & butter pickles, dijon mustard, and lettuce on Roman Candle whole wheat bread. Definitely a step up from the canned tuna I’m used to making. It hit the spot for a perfect lunch today!

National Sandwich Day

Categories: Sandwich | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

261/365: National Cheeseburger Day

Quick playing patty-cake and march your buns down to the nearest fast-food joint for today’s quintessentially American food holiday. September 18 is National Cheeseburger Day!

Or, grill ’em yourself. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong with a food that is so closely associated with the U.S. of A., though in reality hamburgers have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. Way back in the 11th century, Mongols carried flat patties of meat with them on long horseback trips. The Mongols brought their meat to Moscow (how’s that for alliteration?), and Russian sailors carried them over to Hamburg, Germany. From there they spread to New York, but the first person to actually place a meat pattie between two slices of bread is open for dispute. There are several claims for its invention; while the Library of Congress officially recognizes Louis Lassen as the inventor of the hamburger – he began selling one at his lunch wagon in New Haven, Connecticut in 1900 – Wisconsinite Charlie Nagreen allegedly tried selling fried pork meatballs at a county fair in Seymour in 1885, but when customers had difficulty carrying them around, he flattened the meat and named it after the Hamburg steaks that German immigrants were familiar with. Others who claim to have invented the hamburger include Oscar Weber Bilby, Frank and Charles Menches, Fletcher Davis, and German Otto Kuase. About the only thing agreed on is that White Castle invented hamburger buns. Things are just as murky with the cheeseburger; once again, multiple parties claim to have been the first to add cheese to the sandwich. Credit is generally given to Lionel Sternberger, a fry cook at his father’s restaurant in Pasadena, California in 1926. He is said to have added a slice of American cheese to a sizzling hamburger patty just to see what would happen. I’ll tell you what happened: delicousness happened! The cheeseburger has been a mainstay of American casual dining ever since.

To celebrate, Tara and I stopped by our favorite local fast-food burger emporium, Burgerville, to take advantage of their special. Burgerville is recognizing the food holiday by offering a free Pepper Bacon Cheeseburger with the purchase of another one. Throughout this year’s challenges, very few businesses have capitalized on the associated food holiday, which has surprised me. I suppose they’re simply unaware of them? I’d think advertising that it’s a certain food holiday when that item is on your menu would be a great marketing ploy and could be worth a little extra business, at least.

Which is why blogs like ours exist, folks…

Can't see the cheese because of the bacon, but it's in there, folks!

Can’t see the cheese because of the bacon, but it’s in there, folks!

Categories: Beef, Sandwich | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

125/365: National Hoagie Day

Happy Cinco De Mayo! Break out your sombrero and get ready to whack a few pinatas, because it’s National Hoagie Day!


OK, so May 5th seems like it would be a day more fitting to celebrate tacos or burritos, not hoagies. But it is what it is. We’ll save our fiesta for next year, I guess. Hoagies are one of many names assigned to a sandwich made with a long Italian or French roll that is split widthwise and filled with meat, cheese, vegetables, and sauces. It is also variously referred to as a submarine, sub, grinder, po’ boy, hero, torpedo, or Italian sandwich. The sandwich originated in Italian-American communities in the Northeast late in the 19th century, created to serve Italian laborers who wanted the same convenient sandwich they had enjoyed back in their native country.¬†New York Herald Tribune¬†wrier Clementine Paddleford (seriously) coined the term “hero” by writing, “you needed to be a hero to finish the gigantic Italian sandwich.” As far as the word “hoagie” goes, there are several different theories about its origin. This particular sandwich comes from the land of Rocky and Tasty Kakes, Philadelphia, and may have referred to a World War I-era shipyard in that city called Hog Island, where Italian workers introduced the “Hog Island” sandwich, later shortened to “hoggies” and then “hoagies.” Or it may be related to Philly street vendors known as “hokey-pokey men” who sold antipasto salad, meat, and cookies. OR it might have been derived from the term “on the hoke,” a slang term for bums in South Philadelphia. Deli owners, taking pity on these guys, would give away scraps of deli meat and cheese in an Italian bread roll known as a “hokie.” Wherever the name came from, former Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell declared the hoagie the official sandwich of Philadelphia. Kind of a surprising choice given that the city is famed for the cheesesteak, but maybe Ed had an intolerance for dairy. Who knows.

Everybody loves a good hoagie, and by everybody, I mean Tara, too. So we grabbed a couple from Jimmy John’s for dinner. Loved ’em!


Categories: Sandwich | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Blog at