By Eric Shackle
250 Years of Sandwiches
The May 12-13 weekend will be memorable for the 68,000 people living in the English town of Sandwich in the county of Kent. They will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of their town's name being given to one of the world's favorite foods.
There'll be a sandwich-making festival with competitions, a food fayre and lots of entertainment.
Today's sandwiches are named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, an 18th-century English aristocrat, who ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread. He was fond of this form of food because it allowed him to continue playing cards, while eating without getting his cards greasy from eating meat with his bare hands.
Other players liked the idea, and began ordering "the same as Sandwich."
Fast forward 250 years, and we find that John Edward Hollister Montagu, 11th Earl of Sandwich (69) is a British entrepreneur, politician and nobleman.
Eager to cash in on his inherited title, he opened a restaurant and sandwich shop, Earl of Sandwich, in collaboration with Robert Earl, founder of the Planet Hollywood chain, at Downtown Disney Marketplace in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
The partners have franchising plans in the United States and the United Kingdom, including the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The first Earl of Sandwich franchise (as opposed to corporate location) opened in Sugar Land, Texas, and is owned by an investment group.
Eleven other locations have opened since, in Florida, Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Nevada.
In 2001 Earl of Sandwich was launched in London with a gourmet sandwich delivery service in London's financial district. The first Earl of Sandwich restaurant outside of the United States opened in April, 2011 in London, the second at Disney Village in Disneyland Paris in June 2011.
When the first London shop was opened, the Daily Telegraph reported, "The current Earl, the eleventh to hold the title and one of the elected hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, is opening the shop in the City, with his son... They hope that their venture will eventually be big enough to take on Pret a Manger, Eat and the other national sandwich chains.
"Mr Montagu said: 'When I was growing up it was always a fun story to tell. And then I went into business at the same time as the sandwich market exploded in popularity. It is one of those products you find all around the world.
"'And I said to Dad we could really do something, if we get the food right.'
"Unlike the majority of lunchtime outlets, Earl of Sandwich will sell hot sandwiches, made in front of the customers using freshly baked bread. They will cost £3.95 and include The Original 1762, a sandwich filled with hot roast beef, cheddar and horseradish sauce.
"Though this is the first sandwich shop opened by the family in Britain, it is not their first venture into the food business that has taken advantage of their name. They run 14 sandwich shops in America, including one in Las Vegas and one at Disneyworld in Florida, as part of a joint-venture with Robert Earl, the entrepreneur behind the Planet Hollywood brand."
The Disneyworld shop claims it's the busiest sandwich shop in the world.
Earl of Sandwich uses the same artisan freshly baked bread for its 14 signature hot sandwiches which all sell for $4.95.
Best sellers include The Original with fresh roasted beef, cheddar and creamy horseradish sauce; The Earl’s Club of turkey, apple-smoked bacon, Swiss, lettuce, tomato and “sandwich sauce,” and The Full Montagu, which is roast beef and turkey with cheddar, Swiss, romaine, tomato and English mustard sauce.
Certified Angus Beef is slow roasted and sliced on the premises every day.