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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Shaping the sandwich of the future
Chicken is one of the top filling choices (pic courtesy of Bronte Foods)
Chicken is one of the top filling choices
As British Sandwich Week draws to a close, the industry gathers to plan the future of the lunchtime favourite.

But a new survey shows people stick to the traditional fillings, so what is going to tempt us to change? BBC News Online's Caroline Ryan visits the Total Sandwich Show in Islington, London to find out.

The humble sandwich is the staple of many a lunchtime diet.

But more and more exotic flavours are creeping in between the slices.

According to industry leaders, although many of us stick to the "safe" options, such as the reliable cheese and tomato, exotic ingredients are creeping in.

People are eating so many sandwiches they want to be able to have a choice

Nellie Nichols, sandwich designer
Char-grilled pineapple, pheasant or scallops and bacon are just a few possible fillings of the future.

And though many people are happy to plump for ciabatta or focaccia instead of plain old brown or white, even more unusual breads could be on the way.

I can report that baked bean bread has a pleasant tomatoey flavour, though the delights of bacon bread were lost to me as a vegetarian.

But a survey of 27,000 consumers found that despite the ever more unusual options available from the local sandwich shop, most people still go for the traditional fillings.


The survey for the British Sandwich Association, found cheese was the most popular filling, chosen by 16% of people.

Ham was chosen by 13%, and chicken accounted for 12% of sandwich fillings.

Men seem to like bacon, making up 70% of bacon sandwich sales.

Women were found to prefer prawn sandwiches, making up 63% of purchases.

Brian Turner
Brian Turner: consumers will want higher quality products
But according to TV chef Brian Turner, a regular on the BBC's Ready, Steady Cook, the trend is towards higher quality products.

"Instead of just having ham and cheese, you may have a nice French or English unpasteurised cheese with some lovely smoked ham."

Nellie Nichols, creative designer with sandwich-making company Hazlewood Breadwinner, said: "You are always going to get the top four or five choices, things like prawn mayonnaise, cheese and ham, egg mayonnaise and BLT.

"But people are eating so many sandwiches they want to be able to have a choice."

Future trends

Ms Nichols said: "There will be different influences from different parts of the world - five years ago people wouldn't have bought focaccia."

She predicted the rise of the "New York Deli" sandwich - big breads, over-filled with ingredients such as pastrami.

The sandwich is the meal of the 21st century

Jim Winship,
British Sandwich Association
Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich Association, said the sandwich fits into the 21st century lifestyle.

"People try to do more things with their time - and as business becomes more global, people have to stay at their desks later.

"The sandwich is the meal of the 21st century."

He admitted that many people are "cautious" in their choice of sandwich, but says a third of the market could be described as innovative.

So what next? Well, Mr Winship predicted that the hot toasted sandwich was an "untapped area".

Tell us what your favourite sandwich is and what you think the office workers of the future will be eating for their lunch.

Cold curried chicken with raisins and pine nuts stuffed into a big croissant. Yummy.
Phil McGloin, Vancouver, Canada

I'm a health nut, so my favourite sandwich is usually on freshly baked multi-grain bread, using avocado as a spread & filled with sliced turkey, vine-ripened tomato, sprouts, ("cress" to the Brits), Maui sweet onions, accompanied by a glass of Perrier!
Jackie Collins, Hawaii, USA/former Brit

I'm hooked on a little gem from a local cuisine eatery up the street that I just can't get enough of... Thin slices of seared and peppered Ahi tuna, lightly drizzled with soy, topped with thin slices of avocado, red sweet onion, lettuce, and a mild wasabi mayonnaise. Mmmm! Well worth its high pricetag!
Richard Castellanos, San Francisco, California, USA

My favourite sandwich is beetroot, red onion, ham and tomato with lots of salt and pepper. Fresh tomato and onion is also great. What will the office workers of the future be eating for their lunch? Nothing, they won't have time.
Veronica Williamson, The Netherlands

"Overfilled" is a matter of perspective. When will British sandwich makers realise that one slice of ham and two thin slices of bread with the corners curled up, just does not "cut" it for lunch? American and mainland European style sandwiches have a long future ahead as the primary source of lunchtime nutrition, with salads & cold pasta a close second.
Mike, USA

You can't beat a good BLT. Re Mike from USA's comments about sandwiches on 'mainland Europe', he has obviously never been to Belgium. You cannot get a sandwich in this country that hasn't been drenched in mayonnaise and which doesn't come in bread that consists of half cardboard, half thin air, and which will rip your gums to shreds. Actually, you can, at a certain well-known high-street store, but they will soon be closing down their branches in 'mainland Europe' - much to the regret of us expats!! Where will we go now for our sandwiches??
Chris, Belgium

Grilled bacon and grape. Lovely.
Colin Russell, UK

Toasted cheese, frankfurter and tomato ketchup - straight from the toaster- YUM!
Guy Sorce, UK

Marmite sandwiches! Fish paste! Sausages! Roast beef! Big bread and filling sandwiches, a la New York deli-style, are too fattening. Bring back the one slice of ham sandwich.
Marilyn, UK/USA

Favourite: hot bacon with watercress in a white bap! Office lunch in the future? Not much change, but perhaps more fruit and vegetable fillings as more people give up eating meat.
Lin T, England

My fave sarnie is tuna with sun dried tomato mayo, lettuce, cottage cheese and dressing! In future? A wee tiny tablet that saves the time of eating a sandwich - I bloody well hope not!
Andrena Maynard, Scotland

Load it up! Subs, torpedos, whatever they're called- take a 30cm long roll and stuff it with beef, ham, turkey, two types of cheese(Provolone & Swiss, usually), olives, pepperocinis, add a touch of Italian dressing and voila!-portable perfection. Sorry, no wimpy-skimpy once-slicers for this hungry Yank.
Scott, USA

The best sandwich in the world is not one you can buy from a shop. Oh no... The fishfinger and peanut butter sandwich has been an important part of my saturday lunchtime for as long as I can remember. In the ideal fishfinger sandwich, you have a huge slice of bread, covered in mayo, sprinkled with grated cheese, then four fishfingers, and closed with another huge slice of bread spead thickly with lovely non-crunchy peanut butter. Then slash it, and cut diagonally. Mmmm... It's my dream to one day be able to go into our local cafe place, and not order a bacon and egg sarnie, oh no, fishfinger and peanut butter.
Nif, Lincoln, UK

Swiss cheese, crushed walnut and alfalfa on a rustic white roll.
Angus Graham, Oman

It has to be mashed potato and salad cream, but you try explaining that to a shop assitant!
Caroline, UK

Even though I came to the States fairly late in lift, I think their sandwiches are wonderful - much more of a meal than English ones. I love chicken salad and pastrami
Brenda Gill, USA

Crushed avocado, mixed with a little sliced onion, a tiny pinch of salt and a bit of vegetable oil, spread on fresh bread. Never as nice as the ones they sell on the streets of Benin, but delicious all the same!
Hilary , UK

Sugar is my favourite sort of sandwich. P.S. I am 5 yrs old
Charley, England

Hot bacon with a slice of grilled pineapple and a dash of hot chilli sauce to offset the sweetness. Hits the spot just right!
Kevin B, UK

Banana and avocado pear with lettuce and tomatoe in a french stick - Delicious!
Nannon, Spain

A recent trip to Italy proved that one can obtain a better fresh sandwich from a motorway service station than most regular sandwich shops in the States is this possible?...not too hard...fresh breads and rolls...and obviously freshly prepaired ingredients ..and the best part ..inexpensive there you go ..the sandwich its here to stay .
P Charlesworth, Mexico

Cream Cheese with cucumber, sprouts and tomato on a bagel - as you English would say - quite nice.
Mike M, USA

Baked Beans,(Heinz of course no pork included) Cheddar or double gloucester melted, on a proper large thick cut loaf 6"x6" slice. Of course that's a Fantasy. Here the bread's small, tasteless (mainly sourdough) Double Gloucester if you can get it, is $14 a pound, and Heinz do not do real English baked beans.
Nic Holc-Thompson, UK living in US

Bacon and Avocado from my wife, Hisako's cafe. Sugoi (awesome)!
Gary Ross, Japan

Why is it impossible to get simple sandwiches these days? Just try and buy a cheese sandwich at a garage or at the works canteen or anywhere that doesn't make them to order. It's impossible. Am I the only person in the country that doesn't like sandwiches to have about 3 different fillings and topped with rabbit food?
Stuart, UK

Not really my favorite but a mention needs to be made of the lard sandwich (bread, lard and salt, mmmmmm) for dessert the sugar sandwich (bread and butter topped with sugar).
Mike B, USA

Roasted marinated vegetables with cream cheese and pesto. Yum! So long as baguette vans roam their natural business park habitat, workers will eat sandwiches for lunch...
Sarah Blake, UK

Favourite: Capers and green tabasco on cream cheese and grilled bacon, between two slices of toast. Future: If Japan has any influence, we'll be eating fillings like noodles and potato salad between pasty white bread! Though sandwiches here are terrible, the popular 'onigiri' rice ball wrapped in seaweed and stuffed with various fillings is a delicious and healthy snack that ought to catch on in the UK.
David Cook, Japan (from the UK)

The best sandwich that I have tasted is cheese (Scottish Cheddar) and raspberry jam and all my friends cringe at this but don't knock it till you've tried it.
Jim McGlashan, Scotland

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