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The History of Club Sandwiches

The club sandwich got its start in American gentlemen’s clubs in the late 1800s. The Saratoga Club-House began offering a club sandwich in 1894 and is often credited with inventing the famous dish. The first club sandwich recipe was published in a book of “salads, sandwiches, and chafing-dish dainties” in 1899; Wallis Simpson, who Edward VIII famously abdicated in order to marry, was a notable fan. Interestingly, until the 1920s, sandwiches were usually considered “dainty” food for ladies that were only served at ladies’ lunch eateries. The club sandwich was seemingly an exception to this “rule,” as a New York Sun article dating back to 1889 praised the Union Club sandwich as an appropriate option for men to enjoy during a post-theater supper or pre-nightcap snack at men’s clubs. Over time, the sandwiches became popular mainstays in conservative, male-dominated spaces like country clubs. Eventually, they made their way onto the menus of more mainstream eateries. Although they are not usually considered essential offerings in most modern restaurants, they do maintain a stalwart presence on the menus of country clubs and similar institutions today.

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