It’s common to be curious about the origins of some of our favorite things to enjoy, like our favorite clothing brands or our favorite foods. If you’ve ever taken a bite into a delicious club sandwich and been curious about the name’s origins, you’re not alone.
Was it named after its ingredients, like the classic BLT? Does it have a funny or interesting origin story that you can remember through every bite? Finding the origins of the name of the club sandwich is a fascinating dive into the history of the sandwich, with a few interesting stories that likely stand the test of time.
Is it an Acronym or Not?
Back in 2018, a viral tweet went around proclaiming that the CLUB in club sandwich was an acronym that stood for the sandwich’s ingredients — chicken, lettuce under, bacon. That initially sounded intriguing, and most people related it to the BLT standing for bacon, lettuce, and tomato (and mayonnaise). Unfortunately, the acronym doesn’t stand the test of time or common sense.
First off, there isn’t any steadfast rule that chicken and lettuce have to be under bacon. Secondly, the early club sandwich recipe didn’t always have bacon and lettuce, and chicken wasn’t the only acceptable form of meat to include in your sandwich. So as clever and easy as it might be to say the club was an acronym, we likely have to dig deeper to find the true origins of the sandwich.
The Union Club
The origins of the club sandwich have always been a bit murky. Back in 1894 in Saratoga Springs, New York, the Saratoga Club House declared that it had created the first club sandwich. Problem solved, right? Yes, except for the sandwich being sold in New York City’s The Union Club in November of 1889, five years before the Saratoga Club House claimed to be where the sandwich originated. The original club sandwich was served warm and with slices of turkey or chicken on two pieces of graham bread (further dispelling the acronym theory).
Evolution of the Club Sandwich Theories
There were multiple recipes for the club sandwich. Some included bread with a layer of turkey or ham, and some even had multiple slices of bread. The bread could be served buttered or unbuttered, and bacon was also found in some early 1900s recipes.
The history of the club sandwich also leads you to the clubhouse sandwich, a separate entity of its own. Club sandwiches often had 3 or 4 layers of toasted white bread, and it appears that sometime in the 1920’s everyone decided just to merge both sandwiches.
The club theory also comes from the idea that the club sandwich originated in railroad cars in 1895 when passengers would purchase food and drinks. There’s also an idea that someone just came home from the club one night, decided to toss mayonnaise and cold bacon on two slices of bread with chicken and ham served between them, and called it a club sandwich. Even if we never know the real story of the club sandwich, it’s probably best that you don’t pay attention to random tweets declaring knowledge of the origins of the club sandwich.
So, Where Did It Come From?
The history of the club sandwich is hotly debated, and it likely originated from some environment where it made sense to call it a club sandwich. Odds are, we’ll never be able to pinpoint exactly where the great clubhouse sandwich originated from, but we do know that you can pinpoint where to get a great club sandwich.
Mil-Lee’s Yardley Diner is a great place to get a club sandwich, even if we aren’t a club! Check out our outstanding menu options, learn more about what makes us one of the best places to eat in Yardley, PA, or visit us today and discuss the origins of the club sandwich name as you chomp down on one!