9 Sandwich Eating Etiquette

Sandwich Eating Etiquette
When eating different types of sandwiches, different methods are employed. Finger sandwiches, wraps, and hot dogs are eaten with the fingers; club sandwiches, hamburgers, and subs should be cut first before being eaten with your hands; and open sandwiches should only be eaten using a knife and fork.

1. Tea Sandwiches

tea sandwich
Eating tea sandwiches

When eating tea sandwiches, eating them with your fingers is common. In fact, tea sandwiches are referred to as ‘finger sandwiches’ in countries like Britain for this very reason!

Tea sandwiches are small, sometimes bite-sized sandwiches often consumed as part of afternoon tea. Typical examples of tea sandwich fillings are veggies, chicken salad, or cream cheese. Tea sandwiches are often cut into small triangles or cubes.

2. Hamburgers and Subs

Cutting them in half before eating is common for most fast food sandwiches (including burgers, Philly cheese steaks, or subs). Buns and subs are larger than traditional slices of bread and can be hard to eat in one go, necessitating cutting them before consumption. However, eating these types of sandwiches using your hands is still common practice.

eating hamburger
Eating hamburger

Other types of tasty sandwiches also require cutting before eating. Bagels, baguettes, or even grilled cheese sandwiches often require cutting before eating – this is due to their size (usually reflected in slightly more expensive pricing) alongside the packed nature of these sandwich recipes.

3. Open Sandwich

three open sandwiches
eating open sandwich

It is often best to use a knife and fork for open-faced sandwiches. Sandwiches were designed to be simple to eat, with the two layers of bread acting as an easy way to hold them. Taking away the top layer of bread makes open-faced sandwiches messier, hence the need for cutlery.

However, there are still many benefits to open-faced sandwiches. Due to the reduced carb content, these are often healthy sandwiches, great for reducing carbohydrates from your meal plans. Their open style also means you can fit more fillings into the sandwich, including nutrient-heavy foods such as veggies and salad.

4. Wrap

Eating a wrap
Eating a wrap

Wraps should be eaten with your hands. The joy of eating a wrap is that all the ingredients are contained within the confines of the tortilla, making them an excellent option for on-the-go lunches. Hot dogs have a similar benefit, explaining their popularity as street food options in big, busy cities like New York.

Traditionally, wraps might have the same fillings as deli offerings, such as chicken sandwiches, egg salad, etc. However, there is no limit to what you can put in a wrap. Sausage, mustard, and ketchup make a cheap hot dog; combine banana and peanut butter for an energy-boosting breakfast; use a whole wheat wrap filled with hummus and veggies for a delicious healthy lunch.

5. Club Sandwich

club sandwich
Club sandwich

Club sandwiches are thicker and, therefore, harder to eat than traditional sandwiches. They feature a third slice of bread in the center of the sandwich, bulking them out alongside generous helpings of fillings.

The best way to eat a club sandwich is to cut it into quarters. This makes eating less unwieldy and allows you to consume it easily with your fingers.

6. Kebab

Kebabs are designed to be eaten with your hands. They are a form of street food meant to be consumed on the go and are often the meal of choice for people getting peckish while out on the town.

However, this is only true for doner kebabs. Don’t get confused with shish kebab, which is a meal consisting of cubes of meat and vegetables served on skewers.

7. How To Hold a Sandwich?

holding a sandwich
Holding a sandwich properly

Hold your sandwich as close to the crusts as possible, giving you the widest surface area to eat from. Use two hands to prevent any fillings from slipping out, wasting, or covering your t-shirt. If fillings are lost, hold your sandwich over your plate while eating to catch any dropped food.

8. How To Use Condiments?

One way to use condiments (such as ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise) is to put them inside your sandwich. This is the cleanest way and means you get a nice mixture of fillings and sauces for an even flavor.

You can also put them on your plate and dip your sandwich into them. This is especially useful for things like burgers, which can get quite dry even with condiments on the buns.

9. What To Drink with a Sandwich?

At breakfast and lunch, it is common to have a cup of coffee with your sandwich – though maybe avoid milky drinks (lattes, cappuccinos) alongside heavy carb-filled meals, as these can cause bloating and lethargy.

As per NHANES, 48% of sandwiches are eaten at lunchtime. So at lunch or dinner, many people choose to have a soft drink or alcoholic beverage (such as a beer) alongside their sandwich. These can work well to help wash down the bready meal.

Also read: 14 Wine Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

The best drink for any time of the day is water. Any dietitian will tell you that getting enough water is the key to any balanced diet, so ensure that whatever you’re drinking, have a glass of water alongside!

What Not To Do When Eating a Sandwich

There are a number of cultural faux pas that it is best to avoid while eating sandwiches. These include:

  • Asking to take a bite of someone else’s lunch
  • Eating with your mouth open
  • Not eating over a plate and spilling food on the floor/down yourself
  • Opening up the sandwich and taking out the fillings
  • Speaking with your mouth full

Jack Fairey

Jack is a writer based in west London, England. He is a keen traveler, and has a particular interest in the fascinating differences in etiquette across the world. When not writing, he can be found dreaming up his next trip to far off places.

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