The First Sandwich
History teaches that technology is spurred by the rich and the military. Some of the best innovations, both inside and outside the world of gambling, were created as a result of politics, conflict, and the whims of those who govern. The scientific knowledge surrounding jet propulsion was recognized with the perfection of the arrow over a thousand years ago. The US Vs USSR space race would not have existed without WWII, and many variations on poker and other games of chance came from men who played those games in the trenches of WWI and the American Civil War. But one of the most beloved creations in the western world originated in the mind of an aristocratic gambler by known as the 4th Earl of Sandwich.
Sandwich the Man
Known to history as John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich was the inventor of the world’s tastiest gambling accessory. The Earl was born in the year 1718 and was destined to succeed the 3rd Earl of Sandwich, his Grandfather Edward Montagu, which he did at the age of ten. He was an intelligent and precocious child who had ambitions to honor his family name, and one of his few vices was a love for games of chance. Professionally the Earl excelled, holding several offices in the English government including positions in the Navy, a position in the Northern Department, and he was named Postmaster General.
His Game of Choice
John Montagu’s game of choice was cribbage, a card game he would play with his peers and often enjoy with his respected subordinates. At the time, the game was for two players, but later up to four people would play. It involves earning points by creating certain combinations of cards; the game also features a separate hand, set aside and designated as the dealer – all features that complimented the Earl’s fastidious nature.
The Creation of the Sandwich
According to Tour to London by Pierre-Jean Grosley, the circumstances behind the creation of the sandwich were closely linked to the Earl’s love for gaming. However, others argue that there is evidence that it was closely linked to his naval excursions. In the version where gambling was involved, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich sat at the gambling table enjoying himself verbosely and in a ribald fashion for several hours. The Earl had not bothered to eat in all that time, so he asked someone to bring him two slices of bread and some cuts of meat. The Earl put the meat between the bread, and a Western staple was created. In this version of the story, the Earl’s gambling companions, upon watching him consume his meal declared “The same as Sandwich,” and “yes a sandwich.”
In the other version, written in a glowing biography, described how the Earl spent so much time working at his naval post that he neglected to feed himself and rather than make a mess by eating a meal at his desk, he orders the fixings for what would be a sandwich brought to him and continued to work diligently. Neither of these has been confirmed true, but the first has more merit in terms of corroboration.