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National Sandwich Day

National Sandwich Day takes place on the birthday of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich. It commemorates his birth and celebrates sandwiches. Although meat has probably been put between bread since the two foods were invented, according to legend, Montagu came up with the sandwich in 1762, while engaged in a 24-hour gambling event. He wanted to be able to eat with one hand so he could gamble with the other and asked his servants to put some beef between two pieces of bread.

John Montagu was born on November 3, 1718, in London. Besides being the Earl of Sandwich, for a time he also was First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for the Northern Department, and Postmaster General. It's likely Montagu got his meat and bread idea from his time in the Mediterranean, where he feasted on Turkish and Greek mezze platters, where meats, cheeses, and dips were placed on and between layers of bread. Montagu continued to eat meat and bread together following the gambling event, and it quickly caught on in popularity in London, particularly with people of society who ate in restaurants. The food began being referred to by part of Montagu's title: Sandwich.

Sandwiches consist of food—usually meat, cheese, and vegetables—placed between "two exterior pieces of bread or bread-like product." To be considered a sandwich, there needs to be more than just a condiment between the bread. Sandwiches are portable, and usually are horizontal in structure. There are many varieties of sandwiches, both hot and cold; the simplest sandwiches are easy to make, but elaborate ones can be made as well. There is some debate as to where a sandwich ends and other foods begin. Is a burger or hot dog a sandwich? What about a gyro, wrap, burrito, or something held in a pita? But today is not about debating—it is about celebrating sandwiches and the man who gave them their name!

How to Observe National Sandwich Day

Celebrate by making a sandwich or having one at a deli or restaurant! Perhaps you could even have one at one of America's best delis or sandwich shops, or have what some consider to be the best sandwich in your state. Check for specials and deals, which some sandwich chains have today. The most fitting sandwich chain to eat at might be Earl of Sandwich, founded by a real Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich! Check for events being held elsewhere. For example, libraries have sometimes hosted events, and for a number of years in the 1980s and '90s, Ziploc held the National Sandwich Day Contest where "America's Favorite Sandwich" was chosen. Since the day also commemorates the birth of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, you could spend the day reading a book about him.

There are many types of sandwiches that you could learn about, make, and enjoy today. The following are some of the most common:

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