Sandwiches Through the Ages

In 1762, fresh from a busy morning spent interfering with peasant girls, John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich and congenital buffoon returned home in a peckish mood.  Experimenting with various buns, loaves and selected fillings he managed to create what most research and development technicians would call 'a right mess'.  However, once the maid had cleared everything away, Sandwich found that - quite by accident - he was left with a thick chunk of meat wedged between two slices of bread.   The 'sandwich' was born.

Or so conventional wisdom would have us believe.  In fact the sandwich is known to have been around since Roman times - and there are certain cafes in York and Chester where you can still buy early examples.  There is anecdotal evidence that they may have existed much earlier. Plato cites the Great Ham and Cheese Bap of Asia Minor as being a miracle of culinary engineering, ranking alongside the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Really Big Potato Fritter of Alexandria as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

It seems that 'Loopy Nuts' Sandwich - as he was affectionately known throughout the parish - had something of a reputation for appropriating other people's inventions and passing them off as his own. Earlier that same year he had invented a 'circular device to assist in the smooth motion of vehicles'.  This he also named after himself, although critics pointed out that his 'vehicular sandwich' was remarkably similar in both function and design to the 'wheel', an invention that had already been around for some time.  In fact, during his lifetime, he claimed to have invented the printing press, the telescope, the spinning wheel, in-line roller skates and fire.   And each time he 'invented' something new, he christened it a sandwich.

He once boasted that he had developed over 150 sandwiches, all of which were clearly based on existing designs.  Sandwich only ever came up with one truly original invention - the Rex.  Such was his contempt for the device that he named it after his dog.  It was, in fact, possibly the earliest known example of a mobile phone - technically quite considerably ahead of its time.  Sadly, Sandwich never saw the potential of the device, and merely used it to hammer in nails.   Nevertheless, the 'Rex' survives intact.  It can be seen in Bristol Museum, and still has £2.50 worth of credit left on it.


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