The World's Oldest Sandwich Just Made A Triumphant Return, Thanks To TikTok

When John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, became so engrossed in gambling and put food between two slices of bread, he most likely had no idea how that little invention would become such an important addition to the world of food, per Food Timeline. In truth, Montagu was possibly inspired by foods that he'd seen in his travels to Greece or Turkey, as history tells us that people were putting things between bread much further back than the 18th century. Yet, the name "sandwich" stuck. Now, some 300 years later, the item has become a staple in the western world, whether it's a simple peanut butter and jelly or a gourmet club sandwich with layers of meat and sun-dried tomato pesto.

Recipes for sandwiches have altered, changed, and evolved over the years for a variety of reasons. So it's always interesting to discover what was popular at one time but is now relatively unknown. The TikTok channel Sandwiches of History aims to recreate sandwiches of the past for all those interested at a glimpse into culinary history. 

The world's oldest sandwich

More than 285,000 followers on Barry Enderwick's TikTok channel, Sandwiches of History, have watched the man make and eat nearly 500 sandwiches. Enderwick has scoured through the pages of various vintage recipe books to come up with his meals, which include a black walnut sandwich from the "Up-to-Date Sandwich Book of 1909," and cheese and cornflakes from the 1936 recipe book "1001 Sandwiches." Needless to say, the man knows his sandwiches.

In May 2022, Enderwick attempted to recreate what is possibly one of the oldest sandwiches in the world: the rou jia mo, a Chinese sandwich dating back to around 200 B.C. The sandwich is still a popular street food in China, per The Takeout. According to Enderwick, this is "typically a bun that's stuffed with meat." Enderwick says he learned about the rou jia mo from "Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer's Guide." While the sandwich is one of the most iconic street foods in China, there's no reason you can't try it out at home. Hey, it gets a ringing endorsement from Enderwick, "That is delicious. Between the onions and all those spices and the soy sauce, OMG."