This Is the Wild Story of How the Club Sandwich Got Its Name
It's like a puzzle: When you get it, you'll question everything.
Have you ever ordered a club sandwich and wondered how it came to be called that? After all, so many of the other sandwiches have names that clearly identify what you’re eating. A grilled cheese sandwich contains grilled cheese, a tuna melt is composed of a glorious mound of warm tuna salad, and BLT stands for “bacon, lettuce, and tomato” (but you didn’t need me to tell you that).
But what about the club sandwich? Is it like a Reuben sandwich–corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread–which has multiple origin stories, including one about a famous Broadway actress who visited New York City’s Reuben’s Delicatessen one night in 1914 when the cupboards were particularly bare? Was it popularized in a particular club, perhaps? Or is there a Marjorie Club to thank for this delicacy?
Apparently, the origin of the name is much more simple than you’d think. Like the BLT, the letters of the club sandwich reveal what’s in it. Club stands for “chicken and lettuce under bacon.”
London resident Will Taylor recently came to this realization on Twitter.
I’m 27 and just found out club sandwich means chicken & lettuce under bacon – mind blown
— Will Taylor (@Will_Tayls91) May 14, 2018
People’s minds were blown.
— Laura Slater (@_LauraSlater) May 15, 2018
It should be mentioned, however, that, as with the Reuben, the origin of the name is still up for debate. The most popular origin stories of this skyscraper sandwich is that it was invented in 1894 at an exclusive gambling house in Saratoga Springs, New York, that was called the Saratoga Club House. This theory is backed up by the fact that the alternate name for a club sandwich is a clubhouse sandwich.
Some sources say it was created by Fraser Scrutton at the exclusive Union Club of New York City, which contained an early recipe to a Union Club sandwich, made up of “two toasted pieces of Graham bread, with a layer of turkey or chicken and ham between them, served warm.” Of course, that culinary tweak carries to this day; a club sandwich doesn’t necessarily have to have chicken as the primary ingredient.
Whatever the origin, it’s crucial that this delicious sandwich be served in triangles. Seriously, that’s backed by science: Sandwiches Taste Better When They’re Cut in Half.
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