Boxed sandwiches

Why do the Brits love sandwiches in boxes?

Friday 6 October 2023

I have lived in London for 10 years now. There are many things I love about this city, but one thing I don’t understand is why everyone here loves a sandwich in a box?

It’s pretty standard in Ireland for small shops to have a deli counter. Fresh sandwiches are a staple of the University student diet.

In many parts of Ireland, the Chicken Fillet roll has reached a status shared only by holy artifacts.

So I ask myself, why does Britain love sandwiches that come in boxes?

I have a theory.

Rail bread

Recently, I watched an interesting a show on whatever Channel 4’s streaming platform is called this month - The Secret World Of Sandwiches.

Look, it was a very hungover day on the sofa, this was a good watch.

Anyways, in the show, it charts the history of high street sandwich chains in the UK.

Before there was M&S and Pret, the main place you bought boxed sandwiches was on trains. The food car on National Rail trains sold simple sandwiches, an easy thing to sell from a place without a hot kitchen.

Marks and Spencer’s saw an opportunity to sell better sandwiches from branches based within train stations.

My hot sandwich take

Ireland’s reliance on train infrastructure is minimal compared to the UK, which means that Irish people don’t have the same emotional or historical relationship to train travel as British people.

No train travel, no boxed sandwiches.