The World’s Most Popular Sandwich: Did You Guess Right?

by Ella

In the realm of gastronomy, few creations hold the universal acclaim and culinary legacy as sandwiches. These versatile delights encapsulate flavors, cultures, and histories in a convenient handheld package. Yet, among the plethora of sandwich varieties enjoyed worldwide, one sandwich rises above the rest to claim the title of the world’s most popular. In this journey of culinary exploration, we delve into the history, ingredients, and cultural significance of this beloved sandwich, unraveling the mystery of what makes it a global phenomenon.

A Slice of History: Sandwiches

Before we unveil the world’s most popular sandwich, let’s journey back in time to understand the origins of this culinary marvel. The concept of enclosing ingredients between slices of bread dates back centuries, with different cultures contributing to the evolution of the sandwich. The Earl of Sandwich’s legendary preference for eating meat between slices of bread during a card game in the 18th century is often cited as a pivotal moment in sandwich history.


The World’s Most Popular Sandwich Revealed

Ladies and gentlemen, the world’s most popular sandwich is none other than the humble yet iconic “Submarine Sandwich,” commonly known as the “Sub.” Also referred to as a “Hero,” “Hoagie,” or “Grinder” in various parts of the world, the Submarine Sandwich reigns supreme due to its universal appeal, customizable nature, and capacity to adapt to cultural preferences.


The Anatomy of a Submarine Sandwich

1. The Foundation – Bread: The Submarine Sandwich begins with a foundation of a sturdy yet soft roll. This bread serves as a vessel to hold the medley of ingredients while providing a satisfying texture.


2. The Filling – Varied Delights: What sets the Submarine Sandwich apart is its flexibility. From cold cuts, cheese, and crisp vegetables to grilled meats, sautéed mushrooms, and marinara sauce, the filling options are as diverse as the cultures that embrace them.


3. The Accents – Condiments and Spreads: A symphony of flavors is achieved through the careful selection of condiments and spreads. Mayonnaise, mustard, pesto, and vinaigrettes impart depth and enhance the sandwich’s overall taste profile.

4. The Finish – Toppings and Greens: Toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles not only contribute freshness but also add vibrant colors to the sandwich. These finishing touches enhance the visual appeal and deliver a satisfying crunch.

5 Types of Submarine Sandwich Sorted by Popularity

5. Steak Bomb

Steak bomb is a greasy, moist sandwich consisting of a bread roll loaded with steak, cheese, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and salami or sausages. It is mostly associated with the New England region, where almost every sandwich shop has their version of a steak bomb.

In New England, these sandwiches are typically prepared by grilling shaved steak on a griddle, then combining it with all the other ingredients.

4. Gatsby

Gatsby is Cape Town’s signature sandwich consisting of a crusty, toasted roll that is stuffed with bologna slices, French fries, ketchup, lettuce, and hot piri-piri sauce. The sandwich is so big that it is usually sliced into four portions, and it can easily feed several people.

Gatsby is named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, possibly referring to the size of the sandwich and the richness of the filling. Today, there is a variety of different ingredients for the filling, from masala steak to calamari and sausages.

3. Fat Sandwich

A fat sandwich is a submarine-style sandwich variety that is characterized by being overstuffed with calorie-laden, fatty, fried ingredients such as gyro meat, chicken strips, fries, and mozzarella sticks. These supersized sandwiches originated at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where they were originally served out of so-called Grease Trucks which were lined up on College Avenue, satiating the hunger of numerous students, mostly after a night of heavy drinking.

It is believed that the first fat sandwich was invented in 1979 and was called the Fat Cat, consisting of a cheeseburger topped with french fries. Today, there are a number of variations including the Fat Darrell, the Fat Knight, the Fat Elvis, the Fat Lady, and the Fat Romano.

2. Grinder

Grinder is a variety of a submarine sandwich and it is especially popular in New England. The sandwich consists of a long roll that resembles Italian bread, but the interior is much chewier and the exterior is crustier. The roll is sliced halfway and filled with olive oil, sliced ham, turkey, salami, or prosciutto, provolone cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce.

The lettuce should always be shredded for a real New England grinder, while the tomatoes and onions should be sliced paper thin. After the sandwich has been filled, it is sometimes dressed with vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Today, any kind of hot or cold sandwich is often called a grinder if it is served on a grinder roll.


Hoagie has been declared the official sandwich of Philadelphia in 1992, consisting of an Italian roll that is sprinkled with oil and vinegar, then layered with onions, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, provolone cheese, and different types of meat according to the customer’s preference.

The authentic Philly hoagie is complete only after the addition of oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Pickles and mayonnaise are strictly forbidden. There are many theories about its origin, but the one that sounds most likely involves a jazz musician turned sandwich shop owner called Al De Palma.

A Journey Across Cultures of Submarine Sandwich

One of the Submarine Sandwich’s remarkable attributes is its seamless integration into different culinary traditions. Across continents, this sandwich harmoniously melds with local ingredients and preferences.

1. United States: In the United States, the Submarine Sandwich takes on regional identities. The “Philly Cheesesteak” in Philadelphia features thinly sliced steak with melted cheese, while the “Po’ Boy” in New Orleans celebrates fried seafood or roast beef.

2. Italy: The Italian “Panini” is a close relative of the Submarine Sandwich, typically made with ciabatta bread and filled with cured meats, cheese, and vegetables. It’s pressed to perfection, resulting in a warm and crispy delight.

3. France: The “Bánh Mì” is a fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisines, combining a baguette with ingredients like pickled daikon, cilantro, and grilled meats. This sandwich beautifully encapsulates cultural influences.

4. India: In India, the “Vada Pav” is a beloved street food made with a spicy potato fritter placed inside a pav (soft bread roll). It showcases the versatility of the Submarine Sandwich concept across borders.

Crafting the Perfect Submarine Sandwich

Creating the perfect Submarine Sandwich requires finesse, attention to detail, and a dash of creativity. Here are steps to craft your own masterpiece:

1. Bread Selection: Choose a fresh, high-quality roll that complements the filling without overpowering it.

2. Layering Technique: Start with a base of condiments and spreads, followed by cheese, cold cuts or proteins, and vegetables. This layering ensures even distribution of flavors.

3. Balance and Proportions: Maintain a balance between the various components. Avoid overstuffing, which can lead to a messy eating experience.

4. Temperature Matters: Warm or melt certain ingredients, like cheese or grilled meats, before assembling the sandwich for a harmonious blend of textures and flavors.

Celebrate Diversity on a Plate

The Submarine Sandwich is more than just a meal; it’s a testament to the shared human experience. This global culinary icon exemplifies how food transcends boundaries, fostering connections and celebrating diversity. So, whether you’re enjoying a classic Philly Cheesesteak, a vibrant Bánh Mì, or your own interpretation of the Submarine Sandwich, you’re partaking in a timeless tradition that unites people across the world, one delicious bite at a time.



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