FROM a crispy bacon sandwich for breakfast to crust-less finger sandwiches for afternoon tea there is a sandwich for every occasion and taste. Britain is a nation of sandwich lovers and its seems we can’t get enough of them. KATH SKELLON investigates.

THE sandwich has come a long way since the fourth Earl of Sandwich ordered his manservant to bring him some cuts of beef between slices of bread so that he could continue playing cards in 1762.

The Earl is said to have made a habit of asking for the same combination so that he could eat with one hand and without getting his fingers dirty. Soon others started to follow his example and the ‘sandwich’ was born.

In Britain today we munch our way through over 11.5billion sandwiches each year, with more than half made and eaten in the home.

From the classic cheese and onion sandwich to the more adventurous open sandwich and Tex Mex chicken wrap,

the retail sandwich market is worth around £6.5billion to Britain.

Of that £900m are sold by multiple retailers (supermarkets including Boots and Marks &Spencer), they sell around 490 million packs of sandwiches.

Research carried out by the Chepstow-based British Sandwich Association that will be published in full during British Sandwich Week (May 11 to 17) found that our favourite ‘ultimate food to go’ are jointly a ploughman’s and a chicken salad, followed by bacon, lettuce and tomato, egg and cress and prawn mayonnaise.

The association found that chicken is the most popular filling for sandwiches bought in the UK, but that egg and ham are catching up.

Chicken remains the number one filling in commercially-made sandwiches, with some 55,000 tonnes of chicken used in sandwiches each year, and 252,000 tonnes of bread.

However, chicken is gradually losing its dominance, with both ham and egg sandwiches gaining popularity in the last year.

Gethin Evans, of the British Sandwich Association, said the choice of what he the society refers to as the ‘ultimate food to go’ is generally enormous.

He said: “From the simplest cheese and tomato sandwich or a hot toastie to the simply exotic. The choice is enormous- and usually far greater than the left-overs that generally get used when making sandwiches at home.”

Wraps account for five percent of all sandwich sales, whilst panini’s are slightly less popular at two percent.

Café’s are increasingly becoming the social hub. In Blackwood, coffee shop owner Esther Apoussidis said you can’t beat a ham salad sandwich.

Mrs Apoussidis, of Coffee Continential, said : “In my view you can't get much nicer (and simpler) than a ham salad sandwich.”

The mum-of-three added:“It has to be good quality ham of course (carving ham) and served in multigrain bread. The salad has to be crispy lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes.”

Sandwich retailers, manufacturers and suppliers are joining forces to mark British Sandwich Week and the Great British Charity Lunch Munch with the aim of supporting good causes.

The Lunch Munch initiative will see retailers donating money for each sandwich they sell their favourite charity during the week.

It’s ‘Love Lunch’ campaign was launched to encourage people to relax and enjoy lunch after a survey found that people in Wales currently take the shortest average lunch break.

BSA Director Jim Winship said: “We want to use this year’s British Sandwich Week to remind people about the benefits of taking time away from their place of work, grabbing a nutritious lunch and, weather willing, enjoying some fresh air.”

The week is the focal point in the sandwich calendar and attracts more than 600 of the industry’s top people to celebrate all things sandwich. Britain’s most innovative sandwich chefs will battle it out for the title of Sandwich Designer of the Year 2014. The winners of six categories from five heats nationwide will go head to head in front of a judging panel which will be announced at the Sammies Awards Evening in London.

The British Sandwich Association, which is organising the event, is keen to encourage as many sandwich businesses as possible to get behind the campaign and is urging the public to support it.

Founded in 1990, the association is the voice of the UK’s sandwich industry. It sets technical standards, encourages innovation and excellence while providing a collective voice for all involved in making, distributing and retailing of sandwiches.

Find out more at

Facts about sandwiches

-British consumers eat over 11.5billion sandwiches each year.

-The record for creating the most expensive sandwich ever made is claimed by chef Tom Bridge whose Lancaster Cheese -Sandwich sold on ebay in 2006 for £345. The creation included Umbrian truffles at £1,700 per kilo.

-The world’s largest ‘pre-packed’ sandwich is believed to be one created by Roberts Bakery in Norwich that was 2.5metres long and encase in 1/2inch thick Perspex packaging. It was filled with Marmite, Princes, Tuna & Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and weighed the same as 1,000 loaves.

Master Chef and author Tom Bridge’s ‘crispy bacon sarnie’ recipe


soft white breakfast roll or cinnamon roll.

Best butter

thin slices of naturally cured British bacon


1. Pre-heat the oven grill.

2. With a pair of scissors or sharp knife, cut along the fat side of the bacon to stop the bacon curling.

3. Place the bacon onto a grill for approximately 4 minutes either side until golden crisp.

4. Meanwhile, toast the breakfast bun and butter lightly on both sides.

5. Place the bacon onto the toasted breakfast bun and serve. I always use brown sauce for bacon and tomato for sausages.