Hillel the Elder, a rabbi in the first century BC, is the first person known to have made and eaten a sandwich. He started the Passover custom of putting a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices, and wine between two flatbreads. Bread has been around for at least 30,000 years. People surely must have been wrapping it round meat and cheese since time immemorial but there’s definite proof they did so 1,800 years before the Earl of Sandwich (1718-92).
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, was a successful politician, serving among other things, as Postmaster General and First Lord of the Admiralty; the Hawaiian archipelago used to be known as 'the Sandwich Islands' after him. He was also a keen gambler who was said to have invented the sandwich because he couldn’t bear to leave the gaming table to have a proper meal. But, according to his biographer, N.A.M. Rodger, this is probably not true. The sole contemporary source for the story, a London travel guide, dates the invention to 1765, when Montague was very busy with his ministerial work. Rodger thinks that, if anything, he probably ate his first sandwich at his desk.
Sandwich’s other leisure pursuit was mistresses, including one who bore him at least five children. Samuel Foote MP was a comic actor and satirist with a wild lifestyle and a prison record for debt. 'Foote,' Sandwich once said to him, 'I have often wondered what catastrophe would bring you to your end; but I think, that you must either die of the pox, or the halter.'
'My lord', replied Foote, 'that will depend upon one of two contingencies - whether I embrace your lordship's mistress, or your lordship's principles.'
This famously sharp-witted retort is often misattributed to John Wilkes.
Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
In Norwegian, pålegg is ‘anything that could conceivably be put in a sandwich’.
In 1965, Astronaut John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich into space.
In 2002 the US Military developed a sandwich designed to last three years which soldiers described as tasting ‘acceptable’.
The Ritz-Carlton Chicago sells the world's most expensive buttie: a $100 grilled cheese sandwich.
Hovis was originally called 'Smith's Patent Germ Bread'.
The English town of Sandwich is 2 1/2 miles from the village of Ham.
At Dylan Thomas's funeral, Louis MacNiece threw his sandwiches onto the coffin, in the drunken belief that they were daffodils.
Hawaii was discovered by Captain Cook in 1778 and named the Sandwich Islands.