The Secret Language of Sandwiches

For generations humanity has struggled to develop models and methodologies to acquire self-knowledge and to communicate with others: to understand oneself and to be understood. This quest for understanding has lead in many strange and unpredictable directions, to the stars (astrology), to the contours of the face and head (phrenology and physiognomy) and to the reading of meanings into gifts and possessions (the true meanings of flowers and gemstones). In the spirit of this desire for hidden wisdom, I present "The Secret Language of Sandwiches", an expose of the sub-conscious emotions and desires which can be revealed by your personal snack-food choices.

An Extremely Short History of the Sandwich

The sandwich was invented by John Montagu the 4th Earl of Sandwich in 1762. An inveterate gambler, he initially developed the sandwich as a method of eating a meal while still being able to hold his cards. He would ask servants to place cooked meats between two slices of bread. The sandwich has been passed down to us almost unchanged since this time. Later innovations included the crust-removal option discovered in Victorian times and the filled roll which was developed simultaneously in Scandinavia and Western States of the USA.

The so-called "sandwich renaissance" which lasted from 1965-1989 saw a burgeonning of the form possibly inspired by the development of low-fat margarines in the 1960s. In this period the number of commonly used sandwich forms jumped dramatically with the invention of the Breville Sandwich Toaster and the popularisation of a number of sandwich forms invented in the early part of the 20th century such as the club sandwich and french stick (or submarine sandwich). It was even rumoured that the British Government was setting up a governmental department along the lines of the Milk Marketting Board or the White Fish Authority with special powers for the promotion of sandwiches and sandwich-like technologies and of course the control of potentially hazardous sandwiches.

Sandwiches are now an everyday feature of Western life which many people take for granted. As a savory snack-food their popularity is second to none with only crisps (potato chips in the USA) being a serious contender. It seems almost inconceivable to think back to the time less than two hundred and fifty years ago when the humble sandwich was fresh-birthed, a thing to inspire wonder and which now seems set to continue to provide pleasure to eaters everywhere for centuries yet to come.

Interpreting a Sandwich

To learn from one's sandwich one must consider many aspects. Most vitally, unless the sandwich was made for you or an unwilling selection (the last sandwich in the shop) the contents of a sandwich reveal a lot about the eater. If the sandwich was prepared by the consumer then the preparation can provide additional hints. Finally, the method of consumption of the sandwich can provide vital clues. To interpret a sandwich then look up all these features in the tables below - but keep in mind the caveats and cautionary notes of the final section. Reading a sandwich is not a simple mechanical process and requires insight and care.


Hard cheeses such as Cheddar or Edam stands for pragmatism and perhaps also conservatism. A sandwich constructed solely of such a cheese indicates a person capable of enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

Soft Cheeses like Brie reveal a desire for social advancement and a sense of self-belief, however, unaccompanied in a sandwich such a cheese can also be an indication that these desires will be unmet.

Cheese spreads (particularly squirted from a plastic bottle or tube), indicate lowered expectations and a sense of personal loss - cheese spread is generally eaten without other sandwich fillings - when eaten with other sandwich fillings it is indicative of a strong desire to escape from this predicament.

Blue cheese (especially if it is very strong) means bitterness or cynicism. Never trust a person who would habitually eat a sandwich composed solely of strong blue cheese.

Beware the person who eats more than one type of cheese on the same sandwich since they are likely to be extremely fickle.

Meats and fish

Beef and Bacon are both signs of heartiness, perhaps to the point of over-indulgence. Bacon on its own in a sandwich shows a lack of self- consciousness and a freedom for the regard for consequences.

Pork stands for contentment and the fulfillment of desires in the near future - apple-sauce with the pork could indicate that the desires are of a spiritual nature whereas crackling could mean more carnal desires are involved.

Ham is a sign of rationality - particularly when thinly sliced. The thinner sliced the ham the more rational the sandwich eater. Except in the case where extremely thinly sliced ham is placed in jumbled lumps which signifies a conflict between the rational and emotional self.

Poultry on the other hand stands for the emotional side of the sandwich eater. A person who would eat a chicken and ham sandwich is likely to be well-balanced between right and left brain, a clear thinker and a creative mind.

Pepperoni, pastrami, wurst and similar processed sausage meats indicate a desire to travel.

Processed meats such as Spam, hot-dogs, burgers and luncheon meat are signs of a repressed desire to return to childhood (unless the sandwich eater is currently a child in which case it's a bit of a cold reading really).

Potted meats such as crab and beef-paste are a symbol of the pleasures of home life - the Famous Five were known for eating beef-paste sandwiches as part of a packed-lunch which would inevitably remind them of Aunt Fanny (or whoever it was) who prepared the meal.

Meat-based pate, on the other hand, as basically potted meat with pretensions, is often indicative of discontent with the current home situation.

Prawns are an indication of a willingness to take risks and a need for excitement, especially when accompanied by mayonaisse.

Tuna is redolent of the open sea and suggests a desire to be greater than oneself... it could be a sign of unfulfilled yearnings.

Fruit and Vegetables

Cucumber is a sign of propiety and a respect for social convention - hence the popularity of the cucumber sandwich in Victorian times. However, this can be subverted and the _ironical_ eating of a cucumber sandwich can show just the opposite (e.g. The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde). A social revolutionary will generally pick cucumber out of sandwiches, instinctively recognising it as bourgeous.

Crisp lettuce added to a sandwich is a sign of a perfectionist, however, someone who adds lettuce even when it is limp and tired is not in touch with their emotions and could be deeply repressed. To remove lettuce from a sandwich is a sign of iconoclasm and deep discontent with the social order. On its own in a sandwich, lettuce could be an indication that the eater is striving for something unattainable (e.g. Sleepless in Seattle) and that they are trying to make things `too perfect'.

Tomato, with its red "danger" colouration, is a symbol of troubles ahead. (Europeans believed that tomatoes were poisonous throughout the middle ages). To add tomato to a sandwich indicates a willingness to face and overcome danger. A surprisingly large number of people will remove tomatoes from pre-prepared sandwiches, often complaining that they make the sandwich "soggy" or "bogged down" - this is a metaphorical attempt to remove the troubles that beset them. A person who would eat a sandwich which only contains tomatoes is likely to be hot-headed and rash.

Grapes, can be seen as like tomatoes only more so. They stand for troubles identified and isolated. Eating a sandwich with grapes in it is symbolically overcoming ones troubles one by one. To buy a sandwich with grapes in and then not eat the grapes is a certain sign of failure ahead.

Onions... Hmmm... finish this bit later... onions are difficult - I think they show signs of anti-social tendencies.

Other Fillings

Marmite is indicative of the virtues of poverty and humility, particularly when eaten without margarine or butter.

Sweet fillings are generally connected to relationships. Honey is indicative of lust whereas jam (called jelly in the USA) shows a desire to win the love or approval of others. Marmalade, on the other hand, is a sign of contentment with ones relationships (friendships or otherwise). A person who would habitually eat marmalade and honey in the same round of sandwiches may be looking for sexual activity outside their current relationship.

Peanut butter shows a desire for stability - particularly if it is "cut" with butter or margarine. It is no coincidence that the archetypal "All-American" sandwich is peanut-butter and jelly indicating a subconscious desire for stability and approval the inevitable result of the insecurities of living in a changing world.

A pie sandwich with its theme of "containing a container" is a sign of extreme intoxication or of a confused mental state - particularly if eaten with trimmings. Someone who eats pie sandwiches may be inclined to over-analyse.


Tricky - needs more consideration.


Hmm... Marg/butter dichotomy. To trim the crusts or not? People who don't eat crusts are clearly deviant in some way but is it worse than trimming the crusts? Do you prefer round or square sandwiches?

Sandwich eating behaviour

More consideration required here.

Cautionary notes

A note on interpretation: Sometimes particular sandwich combinations may lead to contradictory interpretations - for example, a pork and cheese spread sandwich would indicate both contentment and lowered expectations. The eater of such a `contradictory' or `disharmonious' sandwich should look to themselves - their lives are in a state of flux and disaster will follow thick upon their heels.

A word of caution: Although, sandwich-based prediction is an exact science, there are of course many factors which have to be taken into account. For example, a marmite sandwich with no margarine would normally be indicative of parsimony and humility but it could also indicate for example, that the eater has forgotten to visit the supermarket or is extremely drunk and mistook the marmite for jam.

A warning: While sandwiches can be used to predict the future and identify personality traits, one cannot influence the future by ones choice of sandwich and this will merely serve to confound the usefulness of the sandwich as a diagnostic tool.

Of course, these readings can only be a beginning and for more information it is suggested that you consult an experienced sandwich reader for more information (for example analysis of bite patterns and particular bread-types) look in your local phone-book under Mystic Knowledge (Snack Food).

These cautions apart, one should obviously take the wisdom of the sandwiches very seriously indeed. Ignore it at your peril.