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Wednesday is National Sandwich Day; Have One on the Earl Himself

Written By Scott Joseph On November 2, 2010


John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich, in 2002, in the office he shares with other lords in the Houses of Parliament in London.

OK, here’s something I can’t quite figure out. November 3 is National Sandwich Day. But National Sandwich Month is August. Why couldn’t they put Sandwich Day inside Sandwich Month? And why November 3? (Why August? as long as we’re at it.)

Whatever. Happy Sandwich Day tomorrow. I didn’t get you anything.

I know of only one official commemoration of the day: at Earl of Sandwich in DownTown Disney. For anyone who goes to Earl of Sandwich’s Facebook page and “likes” it, a coupon will appear that can be printed and taken to the sandwichery for a free Holiday Turkey Sandwich (with purchase of chips and a drink). The coupon is good Wednesday through Sunday.

It’s fitting that Earl of Sandwich would be commemorating the day since it was the fourth Earl of Sandwich who is credited with coming up with the idea to put meat between a couple pieces of bread to make a one-handed meal.

There are actual Earls involved in the Earl of Sandwich. One is Robert Earl, Planet Hollywood founder and Orlando resident. Another is John Montagu, the 11th — and current — Earl of Sandwich. He isn’t involved in running the business but gave his blessing to the project at the request of his son Orlando. (Orlando Montagu has an older brother who will one day assume the title but who is not involved in the sandwich business. Well, he’s involved in the Sandwich business but not the edible sandwich business. You know what I’m trying to say.)

It was Orlando’s idea to start a chain of Earl of Sandwich restaurants. Back in early 2000s he was supplying ready-made sandwiches to London grocery stores, such as Waitrose. After several letters to Robert Earl, Montagu finally convinced the restaurateur to partner with him. Today, the Earl of Sandwich franchise pays the Montagus a licensing fee for use of the name. (A note from John Montagu greets visitors to the Earl of Sandwich Web site.)

I doubt the franchise has grown as fast as Robert Earl would have liked — the Times Square store he thought would be the second location has never materialized, and the Web site lists only 13 locations, including the original at Disney and one in Earl’s Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas. Others have been established at turnpike service areas and airports. (Perfect food to carry on a plane.)

But back before even the first location was opened, I visited John Montagu in the Houses of Parliament. I wrote about my meeting in a story the appeared in the Orlando Sentinel Dec. 9, 2002. Some notes that didn’t appear in the story: when I arrived at the entrance to the House of Lords (which was not in session on this day in late November) I told the guard that I was there to meet with the Earl of Sandwich. I realized how silly it sounded when I said it, but I was a bit offended when the guard sniggered to his assistant at the American in front of them.

Lord Montagu couldn’t have been friendlier or more accommodation, spending a great deal of time with me, taking me on a private tour of Parliament, posing for a picture at his desk in the shared office space, then sitting and sipping sherry in a lounge reserved for Lords overlooking the Thames.

Afterward, he offered to give me a lift back to my hotel because it was still raining. I was certain I could get there faster if I took the Tubes (and I was right about that by about 20 minutes) but how ofter do you get a chance to be chauffeured by a real, live earl? Actually, his car turned out to be a rather modest and slightly cluttered Saab, but he continued to give a historical tour — “Oscar Wilde once lived there.” — as he zig-zagged through London trying to escape the traffic tie-ups. He was a thoroughly delightful man, and I enjoyed my visit.

Click here for details on the DownTown Disney Earl of Sandwich.


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