A labour of loaf! Meet the YouTuber putting weird and wonderful sandwich recipes from history to the test, with ingredients that include baked beans, oysters and RAW MEAT
- Barry Enderwick has been running his ‘Sandwiches of History’ project since 2018
- It all began when he was sent a copy of 1909’s ‘Up-To-Date Sandwich Book’
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His fans think his videos are the best thing since sliced bread.
Barry Enderwick, 54, puts intriguing vintage sandwich recipes to the test for his ‘Sandwiches of History’ project, sharing the results in a series of hilarious – and fascinating – clips online.
A baked bean sandwich, a yeast sandwich, a ham and banana sandwich, and a chopped oyster sandwich are among the 600-strong list of old-school recipes he’s tried and tested.
Leaving viewers rapt, Barry’s taste-tasting efforts have earned him an impressive 303,000 TikTok followers and nearly 20,000 YouTube subscribers and counting.
Barry, who lives in San Jose, California, came up with the idea for the video series when a friend sent him a compendium of recipes from 1909 titled The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book.
Barry Enderwick puts intriguing vintage sandwich recipes to the test for his ‘Sandwiches of History’ project, sharing the results in a series of hilarious – and fascinating – clips online
Some of the sandwiches that Barry has taste-tested have featured bizarre flavour combinations, such as the ‘Boston Baked Bean’ sandwich from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909. It’s comprised of mashed cold baked beans, celery, horseradish and ketchup on bread
The ‘Oyster Sandwich’ from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909 contains raw oysters as the main ingredient. Barry doesn’t recommend recreating this recipe at home
Barry – who is also a partner in a marketing and business consultancy – reveals: ‘After looking at the book, which had 400 recipes in it, I decided to create a [YouTube] channel dedicated to just making sandwiches from old recipes.’
At that point in his life, he had already cut his teeth online with a variety of food-themed video series – one YouTube series, called ‘In The Chips with Barry’, sees him reviewing crisps (chips in the U.S) before the camera, while in another Instagram series, called ‘Barry’s Ice Cream O’Clock’, he tries out sweet and savoury ice cream flavours.
Barry decided that as part of the sandwich experiment he would try to elevate the vintage recipes, adding an ingredient or two to make them tastier for the modern palate. He calls this ‘plussing them up’.
While the recipes he has tested go back as far as 200 BC, Barry, who describes himself as an ‘avid and curious home cook’, also tests out ‘sandwiches of recent history’ as well as sandwich recipes that have been passed down within families.
After he started the project in 2018, his social media channels started to take off, and fans started sending in recipe books from which he could glean inspiration.
The ‘Ham and Banana’ sandwich from 1,001 Sandwiches is made up of banana and minced ham between two slices of bread
Barry wasn’t impressed by the ‘Yeast Sandwich’ from the 1936 book 1,001 Sandwiches by Florence A Cowles. To make it, he mixed a compressed yeast cake with ketchup and spread it onto buttered bread
The project has taught Barry how ‘seemingly gross-looking dishes can be absolutely delicious’. An example of this, he says, is the ‘Hot N Hearty Tuna Sandwich’ from a 1974 recipe book (above)
Above is the ‘Mock Banana Sandwich’ , which was invented in WWII Britain when the importation of bananas was stopped. Parsnips, sugar and banana essence are used to create a banana-like taste and texture
He says: ‘At this point I have inherited, bought, or have been sent about 30 to 40 physical books. I also access a trove of old cookbooks online via websites such as the Internet Archive.’
Once he has picked a recipe, Barry’s next step is tracking down the ingredients. He says: ‘Most of my ingredients are found at my local stores. I am fortunate enough to have a variety of mainstream and cuisine-specific stores near me. I also source from online as well.’
Certain ingredients prove a little trickier to shop for, such as fresh pandan (a tropical plant) leaves to make kaya – a sweet spread – for the recipe for the ‘Kaya Toast of Singapore Sandwich’.
More hurdles come with navigating the language used in historical recipe books. He says: ‘There are oddities like a recipe stating to use “one cream cheese”… we clearly don’t measure cream cheese like that anymore.’
With his ingredients sourced and the recipe analysed, the next step is actually making the sandwich. The results are wildly varied, with several recipes making for ‘horrible’ sandwiches.
One unappetizing example is the ‘Yeast Sandwich’ from the 1936 book 1,001 Sandwiches by Florence A Cowles – Barry chucked the sandwich in the bin after just one bite. To make it, he mixed a compressed yeast cake with ketchup and spread it onto buttered bread.
‘That was as bad as I thought it was going to be – it was like someone took ketchup and wallpaper paste and put it between two slices of buttered bread,’ he says in the video of the tasting.
Another is the ‘Japan Sandwich’ from the 1901 book 101 Sandwiches, which is comprised of chopped raw oysters mixed with Tabasco sauce and placed between slices of bread, with a lettuce leaf.
After trying this sandwich – and again relegating it to the bin – he says in the clip: ‘That was terrible. The texture was just so wrong. I’m not squeamish at all about raw oysters, but chopping it up and putting it on buttered bread? Just didn’t work at all for me. Even Tabasco couldn’t save it.’
Barry tasting the ‘Japan Sandwich’ for the Sandwiches of History YouTube. ‘That was terrible,’ he admits in the clip
The ‘Japan Sandwich’ was plucked from the 1901 book 101 Sandwiches. It’s comprised of chopped raw oysters mixed with Tabasco sauce and placed between slices of bread, with a lettuce leaf
Barry tested out the ketchup and cream cheese sandwich from the Heinz Recipe Book of 1939. ‘Most of my ingredients are found at my local stores,’ he says
The ‘Cannibal Sandwich’, pictured, is raw minced beef with onion spread on lightly buttered brown bread
A third is the ‘Oyster Sandwich’ from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909, which, like the ‘Japan Sandwich’, contains raw oysters as the main ingredient. Again, Barry doesn’t recommend recreating this recipe at home, as it’s not exactly a taste sensation.
Which has been the most unusual? It’s the ‘Mock Banana Sandwich’, which was invented in WWII Britain when the importation of bananas was halted, he reveals.
He explains: ‘It used boiled, mashed parsnips, banana essence, and sugar to very closely re-create an actual banana sandwich.’
In his taste-test video for the sandwich, Barry says: ‘It’s not bad. If you’ve got bombs raining all around you, this is a treat… I have to give [the sandwich’s inventor] a 10 for ingenuity for coming up with this and using it as a workaround for not being able to get bananas.’
The most memorable recipe Barry has tried ‘would probably be the “Rou Jia Mo” from 200 B.C. China’ (above), which is made up of spiced meat – either lamb or beef – stuffed into a bun
Other sandwiches with bizarre flavour combinations include the ‘Boston Baked Bean Sandwich’ from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909, (mashed cold baked beans, celery, horseradish and ketchup on bread); the ‘Ham and Banana Sandwich’ from 1,001 Sandwiches of 1936, (banana and minced ham between two slices of buttered white bread); the ‘Bran Sandwich’ from 1,001 Sandwiches (a fried bran and egg mixture on sliced bread); and the ‘Popcorn Sandwich’ from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909 (popcorn, sardines and ketchup on toast).
The prize for the funniest sandwich, he reveals, goes to the ‘Dairy Sandwich’ from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909. Barry recalls: ‘It was two slices of buttered Swiss cheese pressed together. That was it. No bread, just buttered cheese.’ In the video featuring the sandwich, he wonders: ‘Who thought this was a good idea? it feels wrong to be eating buttered cheese.’
What surprised him the most about the project was ‘the number of ways peanut butter can [be] leveraged’ in a sandwich.
He explains: ‘Here in the U.S it is almost always paired with jam or jelly. But having played around with it a bit I’ve found it equally at home in savoury pairings as well. Sriracha, fried egg, dill pickles; all work really with peanut butter.’
Another thing he has learnt is how ‘seemingly gross looking dishes can be absolutely delicious’. An example of this, he says, is the ‘Hot N Hearty Tuna Sandwich’ from Williams’ Sandwich Recipes of 1974, which is a sandwich that’s covered in an egg-and-chicken sauce and baked in the oven.
Of all the recipes he has tried, which has been the most memorable? Barry says: ‘That would probably be the ‘Rou Jia Mo’ from 200 B.C. China.’ Discovered in the book Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide, it’s speculated to be the world’s oldest sandwich.
Above is one of Barry’s favourite recipes from the series – the ‘Taco Sandwich’ from Williams’ Sandwich Recipes of 1974
Pictured to the left is the vegetable and apple sandwich recipe that Barry made from 500 Tasty Sandwich Recipes of 1941. ‘Sandwiches can hold any combination of flavours from all cuisines and have seemingly universal appeal,’ he says
Barry tried out the ‘Dairy Sandwich’ from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909. He recalls: ‘It was two slices of buttered Swiss cheese pressed together. That was it. No bread, just buttered cheese’
15 UNUSUAL SANDWICHES OF HISTORY BARRY HAS TASTE-TESTED
1. The vegetable and apple sandwich from 500 Tasty Sandwich Recipes of 1941.
2. The bran sandwich from 1001 Sandwiches (1936).
3. The baked bean sandwich from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909.
4. The ham and banana sandwich from 1001 Sandwiches (1936).
5. The bacon and prune sandwich from 1001 Sandwiches of 1936.
6. The oyster sandwich from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909.
7. The cheese, mint and vinegar sandwich from the New Presentation of Cooking With Timed Recipes (1924).
8. The bacon, egg and banana sandwich from 1,001 Sandwiches (1936).
9. The raisin and beef sandwich from 1,001 Sandwiches (1936).
10. The yeast sandwich from the 1936 book 1,001 Sandwiches.
11. The cheese and butter (only) sandwich from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909.
12. The raw meat and onion sandwich from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909.
13. The fake banana sandwich made from parsnips from WWII.
14. The ketchup and cream cheese sandwich from the Heinz Recipe Book of 1939.
15. The popcorn sandwich from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909.
The ‘Rou Jia Mo’ is made up of spiced meat – either lamb or beef – stuffed into a bun. Barry praises it as offering an ‘amazing blend of spices, which makes sense as it was created along the spice route’.
And some of the sandwiches Barry has tried have been so delicious that he believes they could be on sale in Pret A Manger.
One example of this is the ‘Shrimp Sandwich’ from 1957’s Complete American Cookbook, which is comprised of wholewheat bread spread with curried butter and laden with minced cooked shrimp mixed with mayonnaise, salt, pepper and lettuce. Barry says that it ‘packs a lot of flavour with few ingredients and is definitely something that could be eaten on the go.’
That said, it’s difficult for him to choose an overall favourite.
Some of the sandwiches he loves the most are classic sandwiches that have ‘stood the test of time’ such as ‘The Reuben’, with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on rye bread. Another is the ‘Fried Oyster Po’ Boy’, which is fried oysters, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and a remoulade sauce in a baguette.
And looking to the more obscure sandwiches that have won him over, there’s the ‘Peanut Butter Dill Pickle Sandwich’ from the 1941 book 500 Tasty Sandwiches – it’s made up of peanut butter, pickles, and mayonnaise on bread. ‘It’s pretty tasty,’ says Barry.
Another is the ‘Taco Sandwich’ from Williams’ Sandwich Recipes of 1974, which is taco sauce, crushed tortilla chips, corned beef, hot sauce, and hardboiled egg on toasted bread.
A third is the ‘Ginger Sandwich’ from 1912’s Mrs Rorer’s Sandwiches, which is made of ginger paste mixed with orange marmalade on buttered white bread. Tasting it for his YouTube channel, Barry says: ‘This is quite good. This is clearly a tea sandwich… I dig it.’
Thankfully, none of the sandwiches have ever made Barry feel ill.
Though two sandwich recipes could have the ‘potential for harm’ if followed incorrectly, Barry notes.
They’re the ‘Cannibal Sandwich’ from The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book of 1909 and the ‘Ground Beef De Luxe’ from the 1941 book 500 Tasty Sandwiches, as they both ‘call for consuming raw beef’.
Barry says: ‘I just made sure to source very good, rather fresh beef so it turned out to be a non-issue.’
The former, the ‘Cannibal Sandwich’, is raw minced beef with onion spread on lightly buttered brown bread, while the ‘Ground Beef De Luxe’ is composed of raw minced beef mixed with hard-boiled eggs and anchovy paste, sandwiched between slices of bread.
Touching on why his videos of these weird and wonderful sandwiches are so beloved, Barry says: ‘Sandwiches can hold any combination of flavours from all cuisines and have seemingly universal appeal.’
Find Sandwiches of History on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Reddit, Facebook and on the Sandwiches of History website. To see more of Barry’s food series, you can watch ‘In The Chips with Barry’ on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook; ‘Barry Is Cooking Again’ on Instagram and TikTok; Barry’s Ice Cream O’Clock on Instagram and TikTok; and CraftBeerBarry on Instagram.
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