Winter Warmers the Toasted Sandwich

Now that Winter has firmly taken hold, one thing everyone wants is nutritious, delicious food that will warm us up. The go-to food for many people on the move is the sandwich and the beauty of the humble sandwich is its versatility! You can slice it any way you want, fill it with all sorts or toast it to give you that inner glow!

The sandwich is, as we know, one of the healthiest foods you can eat – our sliced pans contain no added sugar, no added fat and are an important source of vitamins and minerals.

The toasted sandwich can be traced back nearly 160 years to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, which went on to sell two million copies, where the toastie was prescribed for those suffering illness:

“Place a very thin piece of cold toast between two slices of thin bread-and-butter in the form of a sandwich, adding a seasoning of pepper and salt,” the recipe instructs. “This sandwich may be varied by adding a little pulled meat, or very fine slices of cold meat, to the toast, and in any of these forms will be found very tempting to the appetite of an invalid.”

In 2011 Mrs. Beeton’s simple toastie was recreated by The Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK, who pronounced it the country’s cheapest lunchtime meal. The Society was so confident that nothing better value could be found that it challenged the public to come up with a cheaper alternative, offering £200 as a reward!

Now, thankfully things have moved on considerably since Mrs. Beeton’s day, and fillings are much more imaginative and nutritious than her simple salt & pepper. Even the toasted sandwich maker has developed over time.

The first recorded toasted sandwich makers was a device called a “Tostwich”, which is thought to have been invented by Charles Champion around 1920 and he patented the design on March 3rd 1925. Current toasted sandwich makers haven’t changed much since then, with two heavy heated metal plates squeezing your sandwich together. Nowadays most use Teflon to stop it all sticking together.

While similar recipes are mentioned in ancient Roman texts — and, of course, the French have been making their famous croque monsieurs the early 1900s — today's notion of the toasted cheese sandwich is commonly traced back to the 1920s, when Otto Frederick Rohwedder, considered "the father of sliced bread," invented a bread slicer that made distributing white bread easy and affordable.

So get out your toasted sandwich maker or turn on your grill, and start creating your own delicious toasted sandwiches. Let us know how you get on!

Read more at:

“Sandwich: A Global History” by Bee Wilson, published by Reaktion Books (Edible series)

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