We are always looking for a reason to celebrate here at the Republic of Bacon, and this is a pretty good reason: April is National BLT Sandwich Month! I don’t know who instituted it, or why April was chosen (because it is the cruellest month?), but I’m happy enough to participate. After the jump, I’ll discuss the origins of the oh-so-awesome BLT sandwich and many other fascinating facts about its creation.
Thank the Victorians for the BLT
The BLT sandwich – if you didn’t know, the abbreviation stands for bacon, lettuce and tomato – is a popular favourite at brunches and lunches across the country. But where did it come from? Apparently, it is descended from some of the tea sandwiches of the late Victorian period – you know, those little finger sandwiches they used to serve on silver platters at tea time. This is why BLT sandwiches are usually cut into triangles: tea sandwiches have to be easy to handle.
It’s not really known when the BLT name for it came to be or why it ignores one of the most important ingredients: mayonnaise (I used sub-sauce over the weekend. Great substitution). And originally, many BLT sandwiches included cheese. But the BLT and the somewhat similar club sandwich started to rise in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century, and their popularity sped up after WWII. Their spread was helped along by growing industrialization, which allowed for the production and selling of fresh lettuce and tomatoes year-round. By the end of the 20th century, the BLT sandwich had become the most popular sandwich in the UK, and the second-most popular sandwich in the US (after the ham sandwich). In fact, the BLT is so popular that when BLT consumption is at its yearly high in the summer, the sandwich causes a minor bacon shortage throughout the country.
Nowadays, the BLT sandwich comes in a ridiculous number of variations. There are even deconstructed BLTs where the individual ingredients are cut up into smaller pieces and then tossed in mayonnaise. If you are looking for BLT recipe ideas, you can check out the The BLT Cookbook. The endlessly customizable BLT sandwich just keeps on giving.
The BLT Inspires Bacon-Flavoured Art
The BLT has also inspired artworks. Claus Oldenburg, famous for the large versions of his everyday objects, created in 1963 a super-sized BLT sandwich sculpture. It is now in the Whitney Museum of Art. As you can see, all of the BLT pieces are stackable, and every time they move the sculpture, it has to be restacked.
Aside from art, the BLT is also popular as a food item that people like to make enormous, record-breaking versions. For instance, in 2009, Bentley Dining Services created a BLT that was 209 feet long. This was after a string of record-breaking attempts by various cooks across the US. I can guess why – you are going to be pretty sure that everyone will eat it after you are done!
So, I’m definitely going to chow down on some BLTs for April. What do you think? Do you have any BLT-eating planned for the month of April?