The sandwich chain Earl of Sandwich is owned by the actual Earl of Sandwich

The Eleventh Earl of Sandwich and his forty-year-old heir, Orlando William Montagu, entered the catering trade in 2001, establishing a chain of sandwich restaurants called Earl of Sandwich. Their partner is the guy who founded Planet Hollywood. They have outlets at the Downtown Disney Marketplace and in the Fort Drum Service Plaza, in Okeechobee, Florida. Later this year, they will open branches in New York, one in midtown and another on John Street. Let this be a sort of two-lantern alarm to the Katzes and the Eisenbergs and the Defontes of the city: the Montagus are coming, and, according to their literature, “we don’t serve mere sandwiches. We serve The Sandwich.”…

The family estate is in Dorset, and the Montagus also keep apartments in London. Both father and son employ cooks, but they have strong opinions about sandwich construction, even if the construction of their sandwiches is often subcontracted. Eating lunch with them was like perusing knitwear with the descendants of the Earl of Cardigan, or sitting around with the Wellington family–of which Orlando’s wife is a member — talking rubber boots. “I don’t like everything poured onto a sandwich,” the Earl said. “I like one or two things, but most people like a huge choice nowadays, so we have to accept that,” he said, with the regretful air of a viceroy lamenting the fall of the Raj.

According to the British Sandwich Association — it sponsors such awards as British Sandwich Designer of the Year (there are chicken, chutney, and salmon categories) and New Sandwich of the Year (the shortlist for 2011 includes Pret’s sweet-chili-crayfish-and-mango bloomer and Tesco’s Finest Moroccan-chicken flatbread) –the top three sandwiches in Britain are chicken salad, prawn mayonnaise, and egg and cress. The Earl favors salt beef and Colman’s mustard. (So much for Grey Poupon!) His son is partial to celery salt.

Lauren Collins, The New Yorker.

Wow. Wow. Obviously that’s a lot more than I normally excerpt, and forgive me for not including a link: I actually have not seen the full text of the article, merely a pdf excerpt courtesy of real-life friend Rich (Lt. Ret.). The story is online for New Yorker subscribers.

There’s just so much here. First off, the news that the sandwich chain Earl of Sandwich, coming soon to a 52nd St. location just a couple doors down from my office building, is actually affiliated with the legit Earl of Sandwich. Who saw that coming?

Plus, it’s great to hear that the contemporary Earl of Sandwich and his heir are keeping the family tradition alive and have “strong opinions about sandwich construction.” I have strong opinions about sandwich construction! Hey, I have something in common with British nobility! The world just got a little bit smaller.

This site is and has always been about sandwiches for the people and by the people (among other things, of course), and so I cast a leery eye upon weighty sandwich distinctions that seem to reward the designer sandwich set. But it’s hard not to at least appreciate the work being done by the British Sandwich Association — heretofore unknown to me — if not for the actual sandwiches it’s honoring, then for its general enthusiasm for the meal and any effect it might have toward destigmatizing the sandwich as a mere afterthought in the realm of high culinary arts. Not that any of that really matters once you find a good one, of course.

Unfortunately, the Wikipedia tells me that a Sugar Land, Texas Earl of Sandwich franchise is part-owned by noted jackass Roger Clemens, a festering boil on the ass of an otherwise promising sandwich endeavor.


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