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Everybody knows what a sandwich is: a bit of food – traditionally cold meat and perhaps some cheese – tucked in between two slices of bread. But where does the name sandwich come from? Well, the story goes that the sandwich was the brainchild of a certain John Montagu (1718-1792), the 4th Earl of Sandwich, a prominent statesman and staunch supporter of the Patriot Whigs, a political faction strongly opposed to the government of Robert Walpole in the first half of the 18th century. Apart from his lifelong dedication to politics, John Montagu was also a very keen gambler who spent long hours at the card table. Such was his passion for cards – in particular cribbage – that he did not want to abandon the card table even when it was time for a meal. He cleverly resolved this problem by ordering his servants to fetch him some slices of cold meat between two slices of bread. In this way he was able to continue paying cards without needing a knife and fork and without getting his fingers greasy. His fellow players, impressed with his idea, also began to order, “the same as Sandwich,” and so the sandwich was born.
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich
by Thomas Gainsborough