Special Report

These Are America’s Favorite Sandwiches

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Sandwiches are a comfort food staple, a go-to snack and meal for millions of people. The popular story is that we have John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, to thank for that. He often asked for meat and bread together because he could eat them without walking away from the gambling table. But the idea of meat, cheese, and other ingredients between slices of bread may actually come from Turkey and Greece.

There is some data suggesting Americans consume as many as 300 million sandwiches a day. Considering the U.S. population is 330 million, on average, just about every American eats a sandwich every day.

So which one is the best? Though the answer is obviously subjective, some types are more popular than others. To compile a list of Americans’ favorite sandwiches, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a survey conducted by YouGov, which surveyed a representative sample of 1,223 people.

Sandwich preferences vary considerably across the country. For example, people living in the South like grilled cheese more than the national average –– 82% compared to 79% across the U.S.

People from the Northeast prefer the lobster roll by a large margin — 46% regionally compared to 35% nationally. The French dip, which is not at the top of the national ranking, is among the favorites in the West, with 57% liking it compared to 46% nationwide.

What some people might consider to be the two most popular American sandwiches of all, incidentally — the hot dog and hamburger — weren’t considered by that YouGov survey. Though people were asked if they should. Most agreed that a hamburger should be considered a sandwich, but that a hot dog should not.

 Sandwiches are a popular food option any time of the day, but the breakfast sandwich, which is usually a combination of eggs, cheese, and a type of meat, is iconic. Here is the best breakfast sandwich in each state everyone should try.

Click here to see America’s favorite sandwiches

To compile a list of America’s favorite sandwiches, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a YouGov survey conducted in July 2019. The survey was conducted using an online interview completed by more than 1,200 respondents. Respondents were given a list of 22 sandwiches and were asked to answer to what extent they like or dislike each sandwich. Possible responses were “really like,” “somewhat like,” “neither like or dislike,” “somewhat dislike,” “really dislike,” and “not applicable – I’ve never tried this sandwich.”

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22. Muffuletta
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 17%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 11%
> Never tried it: 62%

The muffuletta sandwich was introduced to Americans, specifically those living in New Orleans, by Italian immigrants about a century ago. The sandwich consists of layers of thin-sliced Italian cold cuts and cheese topped with olive salad.

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21. Cream cheese and cucumber
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 25%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 26%
> Never tried it: 33%

There are many variations of cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches. Basically, it’s a slice of bread topped with cream cheese and slices of cucumber. The sandwich, which has originated in Great Britain during the Victorian Era, is meant as an appetizer.

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20. Crab cake sandwich
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 34%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 21%
> Never tried it: 32%

Crab cakes are crab meat formed into patties with cracker or bread crumbs and spices. The patties are then placed in a bun with a variety of toppings and condiments. The term “crab cakes” was first used in the 1930s. Crab cakes are most often associated with the Chesapeake Bay region, especially in Maryland.

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19. Cuban
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 34%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 13%
> Never tried it: 38%

The Cuban sandwich is basically a layered ham, cheese, and pork sandwich with mustard and pickles that glue the layers together. The exact origin of the Cuban sandwich is not certain, though Tampa, Florida, claims to be where it originated. Another version is that the sandwich was first made by a Taino tribe in Cuba more than 500 years ago.

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18. Lobster roll
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 35%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 19%
> Never tried it: 34%

A lobster roll sandwich consists of lobster pieces coated fennel, lemon, and dulse on a bun. The filling may also contain mayonnaise. The first documented lobster roll was sold in Milford at Perry’s Restaurant in Connecticut in 1929. Connecticut lobster rolls are traditionally served hot with melted butter.

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17. Cheese and tomato
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 39%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 23%
> Never tried it: 20%

The cheese and tomato sandwich is usually a grilled cheese sandwich with slices of tomatoes. Cheddar cheese is often the preferred choice if the cheese is to be melted, but mozzarella is a popular alternative. Some recipes include fresh basil for extra flavor.

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16. Pastrami
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 46%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 20%
> Never tried it: 18%

Pastrami is an American version of the salted, wind-dried beef known as pastrama or basturma in Armenia and the Balkans. The pastrami sandwich is usually served hot. It consists of cooked and thinly sliced beef pastrami with a slice of (usually) Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and onions (optional) on rye bread.

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15. French dip
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 46%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 14%
> Never tried it: 23%

The French dip — thin-sliced roast beef or other meat on a long French roll whose cut sides have been dipped into the roasting pan juices — was invented in Los Angeles by a Parisian, one Philippe Mathieu. The story is that one day in 1918, a decade after he’d opened his sandwich shop in downtown LA, Mathieu accidentally dropped a roll into the roasting pan while he was making a sandwich for a local policeman. The cop ate the sandwich anyway and liked it so much that he came back the next day with his buddies for more.

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14. Reuben
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 48%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 20%
> Never tried it: 18%

The deli classic known as the Reuben sandwich — corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread — was named for a man called Reuben. Most sources say that it’s Arnold Reuben of Reubens Restaurant and Delicatessen, who is said to have created the sandwich in 1914 (however, his original was made with baked ham and roast turkey instead of corned beef).

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13. Meatball sub
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 56%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 16%
> Never tried it: 10%

The meatball sub consists of an Italian roll filled with meatballs, almost always in a tomato sauce, with provolone or mozzarella usually added. In Italy, meatballs are served as a main course, not with pasta — much less in a sandwich.

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12. Egg salad
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 58%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 20%
> Never tried it: 9%

The egg salad sandwich is literally just that — egg salad on a slice of bread, or between two slices of bread with lettuce. The egg salad contains mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper. Some recipes also have green onion, celery, and fresh dill added.

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11. Tuna
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 64%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 13%
> Never tried it: 5%

One of the most common ways to use canned tuna is in mayonnaise-bound tuna salad. And one of the most popular ways to eat tuna salad is in a tuna sandwich — an open-faced sandwich in which a tuna salad has been topped with cheddar or some other cheese and passed under the broiler. The salad usually has celery, onion, and lemon juice. Some recipes add celery and a pickle as a side.

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10. Pulled pork
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 65%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 14%
> Never tried it: 8%

Pulled pork is meat (often pork shoulder) that’s been smoked, then pulled apart into shreds. It’s not certain who first decided to make a sandwich out of it, but credit sometimes goes to Leonard Heuberger of Leonard’s barbecue pit in Memphis, who put the meat, along with barbecue sauce and coleslaw on a bun in the 1920s. Some recipes for pulled pork sandwiches add horseradish sauce and BBQ sauce.

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9. Peanut butter and jelly
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 66%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 16%
> Never tried it: 4%

Peanut butter as we know it today dates from the late 19th century (one pioneer in its production was John Harvey Kellogg of cereal fame), and the first recipe for the sandwich popularly known as the PB&J was published in 1901. With the advent of sliced bread in the late 1920s and the proliferation of commercial peanut butter brands, it became popular nationwide.

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8. Bacon
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 67%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 10%
> Never tried it: 9%

Bacon sandwich, a British breakfast staple, consists of cooked bacon between two bread slices sometimes spread with butter. Other seasoning and sauces may be added based on taste preference. In the United Kingdom, the sandwich is known as a bacon butty.

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7. Club
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 68%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 9%
> Never tried it: 8%

There’s a theory that the name of this popular sandwich is an acronym, standing for “chicken under lettuce and bacon.” More likely is the alternate theory that the name is short for “clubhouse sandwich,” so named because it was first made at the Saratoga Club House (a gambling den in Saratoga Springs, New York) or possibly the Union Club in New York City. Often constructed as a triple-decker, it is sometimes made with turkey instead of chicken, and ham may be added to either version.

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6. BLT
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 69%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 12%
> Never tried it: 7%

The bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich — the BLT — is thought to have descended from Victorian-era tea sandwiches. This popular diner staple is closely related to the club sandwich. Some popular extra ingredients in the BLT include sprouts, avocado, and spicy mayo.

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5. Ham
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 69%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 5%
> Never tried it: 0%

The ham sandwich is more than just several slices of ham on bread. The sandwich can also have cheese, mustard, mayo, as well as tomatoes and onion. There are, of course, many more variations. Some call for sour cream to be added to the mix as well.

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4. Roast beef
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 71%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 11%
> Never tried it: 5%

The roast beef sandwich consists of several thinly-sliced deli roast beef, lettuce, and tomato on rye bread. Of course, the type of bread can vary, and so can the additional ingredients. Some recipes add a mixture of mayo, horseradish, and chili sauce, topped by sliced red onions.

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Source: LauriPatterson / Getty Images

3. Turkey
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 75%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 9%
> Never tried it: 3%

Turkey sandwiches are a popular snack after Thanksgiving because there is usually some leftover roast turkey. Of course, the turkey in the sandwich can also just be sliced deli turkey. What also usually goes on a turkey sandwich is mayo, onion, lettuce, and tomatoes. Cranberry sauce is optional.

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2. Grilled chicken
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 75%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 7%
> Never tried it: 4%

The grilled chicken sandwich is another example of a sandwich that’s simple to make that’s among America’s favorite. The sandwich consists of marinated grilled chicken, topped with honey mustard, onion, lettuce, and tomato. Some people like to add bacon and cheese, too.

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1. Grilled cheese
> Really or somewhat ‘like’: 79%
> Really or somewhat ‘dislike’: 7%
> Never tried it: 3%

Bread and cheese heated together is an idea that goes back at least to Roman times. The term “grilled cheese,” though, dates only from around the 1930s and may have coincided with the introduction of the electric sandwich grill (invented by Thomas Edison). The popular combination of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup was apparently invented in school cafeteria kitchens during the Depression.

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