Sandwiches That Stood the Test of Time, by Marilyn Ostermiller.

Here’s another post in my ongoing series about the various aspects and methods of conducting historical research when we write. This one, from my friend and frequent contributor to this blog, MARILYN OSTERMILLER, has a wonderfully unique twist: it’s about sandwiches of yesteryear.

“The greatest thing since sliced bread” is a saying that doesn’t make much sense these days, when sliced bread is in every supermarket. But, in the 1920s it marked a turning point in the average kitchen when a machine was invented that could slice and wrap bread. It meant children could safely make their own sandwiches. There was no longer any concern they would cut themselves trying to slice a whole loaf of bread with a sharp knife for the newly popular peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


Another classic sandwich introduced in1920s is The Hot Brown, a toasted, open-face turkey sandwich with bacon, tomato and a delicate cheesy cream sauce. In the 1920s, the Brown Hotel  in Louisville, Ky. often drew crowds of more than 1,000 people, who kicked up their heels dancing until dawn, then wandered into the restaurant for something to eat. The chef set out to create something new to tickle their taste buds.

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Here’s the recipe

It remains popular: The Food Network’s show, Throwdown featured the Hot Brown as a food challenge for Bobby Flay.

The Philadelphia Cheese Steak, made its debut in the 1930s. The way the story goes, an Italian hot dog vendor in South Philly got tired of grilling hot dogs every day, so he cooked up some chopped meat, put it on  an Italian roll, dressed it with onions. In the 1940s, melted cheese was added to change it up.


If you want to make it yourself, here’s how:

Lobster Rolls also can be traced to that era. A Milford, Ct. restaurant named Perry’s served the first documented lobster roll in 1929. Despite this, Maine also claims bragging rights to the origin of the  lobster roll.

lobster roll sandwich

New England’s eateries still sell lots of lobster rolls, but their recipes are different. Order one in Maine, and you’re likely to get chunks of lobster meat soaked in melted butter served in a hot dog bun. However, in some parts of New England, lobster rolls are served cold, the chunks of lobster mixed with celery, lemon and mayonnaise.

These classic sandwiches are vastly different, but each has a loyal following passed down from generation to generation.

Next: This is the first of a two-part discussion on Classic Foods. The next installment will feature home made treats. Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and sharing recipes.

Darlene here: I don’t know about you, but a Lobster Roll sure would taste good right about now. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SANDWICH FROM CHILDHOOD?


9 thoughts on “Sandwiches That Stood the Test of Time, by Marilyn Ostermiller.

  1. Thanks Darlene. I loved reading Marilyn’s post about sandwiches. Like most kids I ate a sandwich every day, and often do today. UNlike most kids my favorite was liverwurst on rye bread with mayonnaise. That is until a friend introduced me to FRIED liverwurst with fried onions and ketchup on a hard roll, which instantly became my childhood favorite. Today my favorite is a healthier chicken and avocado with salsa on whole grain bread. Although I rarely eat liverwurst anymore, I do indulge in a traditional corned beef Rueben sandwich on occasion.

    • A Reuben sandwich is one of my favorite now, but as a kid I loved baloney and cheese on buttered white bread or a good old tuna sandwich. We never ate PB and J as kids…mom always thought we should have some kind of meat. I discovered PB in college and there was no going back. I like mine with a sliced banana on whole grain or raisin bread.

  2. Neat post! I have a book, titled 1001 Sandwiches, published in 1936. There are some of the weirdest sandwiches in that book. In summer I love tomato, cheese and mayo sandwiches and I still love good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I guess it doesn’t take much to please me. I used to write a column for kids in a regional magazine, and I once wrote about the guy who invented the machine that sliced bread. We called it light bread when I was a kid, and I still do.

  3. Great comments. My older son insisted on creamy Skippy peanut butter and grape jelly on white bread every day for lunch from grade school through high school. I practically despaired of him branching out. I shouldn’t have worried. Now he even eats eel and bone marrow, although perhaps not together. Marilyn

    • That’s hilarious, Marilyn and reminds me of how picky we all were as kids…through the generations. My son battled branching out from turkey sandwiches on kaiser rolls through middle school, but now eats EVERYTHING…

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