Do you know what I had for lunch on Thursday? Neither did I…but I do now

Thanks to the imagination and generosity of my wife Joanne and the food factories of Marks and Spencer, my gardeners packed lunch was supplemented on Thursday by a packet of shop-produced sandwiches; 4 different flavours, each a half-sandwich triangularly arranged like a bready Toblerone, but without the chocolate, or the crunchy gravelly bits.

They were OK. I took the egg mayonnaise first (to get it over with) following it with the dryer chickeny one, to act as a buffer from the other mayonnaisey prawn one before competing the quartet with the salady ham one. A fine variety in anyone’s book.

I’d consumed all four and was moving on to my banana when I nonchalantly flipped the card base of the now-empty sandwich receptacle to find a 32-line essay printed and stuck on the back. ‘Ooh,’ I thought to myself, ‘What’s this? A nice story to supplement my alfresco dining experience? I enjoy a good read.’

On closer inspection found it was a general description of each of the sandwiches (which opened without an explanation or capital letter) followed by over 500 words in which the same descriptors were repeated each separated by a detailed list of that  sandwiches components and allergy warnings. The alert ‘contains Gluten’ appeared 23 times – that’s more than 5 times per sandwich. Bonkers. I was also made aware that every 100g of ham contained 100g of raw pork and that all 4 sandwiches contained rapeseed oil, yet in 3 it was stated at cold-pressed but there was no extraction method described at all for the 4th.  (I won’t spoil the surprise as to which one it is – I’ll let you discover it for yourself)


I know and I get that there are many people more unfortunate than myself for whom gluten, egg or crustacea is their kryptonite, and that it is essential for their continued health that the contents are presented to them, but surely ‘contains gluten’ only needs adding once – or a maximum 4 times should you want it for each individual sandwich? And would I really care if the egg sandwich had contained 4% watercress rather than the 3% reported to me? If M&S and all the other purveyors of bready lunchtime snacks – (except for bakers it would appear?) applied this common sense, there would be room on the packaging to treat us with a nice short story, maybe an Oscar Wilde, say.

I’m sure M&S would say that they are simply following the regulations in this regard, and that’s the point really – why are we so bound up in minutiae warning people that their egg sandwiches contain both egg and gluten when we can watch the X-Factor apparently unabated.

I visited an M&S at the weekend to take a nice picture of the offending sandwiches for you in situ – after all,  I couldn’t take any of the sandwiches I’d had on thursday as I’d eaten them. Sadly, there were none on display and a tell-tale gap in the shelves suggested to me that they might have been withdrawn on grounds of stupidity,  so I took some pictures of the wide range of other sandwiches instead. I did not check if they contained similar overloaded descriptors as I was getting funny looks by this stage.






12 Comments Add yours

  1. Aisling Norburne says:

    hear hear – you nailed it Martin xx



    1. Thank you, Aisling. It’s packaging for the myopic – No chance of reading it with anything less than 16:20 eyesight.


  2. A sandwich containing so many ingredients that it needs an essay to inform a customer of the dietary risks they’re taking by imbibing it should be nothing short of a taste sensation, so delicious one’s taste buds should burst into song, probably ‘You’re The One That I Want’ from Grease, or something equally uplifting. Sadly, in my experience, shop bought sandwiches fail to be that tasty and often give me wind. I think our supermarkets and High Street retailers should invite you in as a consultant to address this issue. A good sandwich is key to customer loyalty, brand success and world peace, among many other things. Never underestimate a sandwich.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would have preferred my ovula to have warbled ‘Filling Groovy’ or ‘Bacon the USSR’. Considering that there are few things in life that can not be bettered by slapping between two slices of bread, the sandwich is a much maligned beast. After all, why are they nick-named ‘sarnies’ when normal naming protocol would have them known as ‘sandies’? Yeah, let me at those supermarkets.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Doug Larsen says:

    If you were able to count all the words on the label I’d say you have too much time on your hands. However you have saved us from that chore so you have my appreciation.



    1. Too much time? I barely managed to count them having watched the re-run of the X Factor and read all the Sunday newspaper supplements. It meant I had to postponse dusting the hedges until tonight.


  4. Shame, really. I’d love to get an actual short story with my sandwich.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Or at least combine the two… Once upon a time, the Princess Crustacea sighed to see her wicked stepmother contained gluten… I’d read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too! Time to launch your literary sandwich empire


  5. Doug Larsen says:

    Yeah, my appetite is for a short story. I hope that now you have tackled this important issue you will resume your true calling. That won’t stop me from getting one of these sarnies and setting it up in front of a video camera for a few weeks. I’d love to see the deterioration process in fast motion – if indeed any deterioration takes place; it may be chemically embalmed.


  6. amydwestphal says:

    I wanna say it’s weird but it’s not here in California. Everyone is allergic here… or on a diet. We’re on a need to know basis with our food. I should mention that I’ve never seen that variety of sandwich pack. That part is a little different…


  7. There are few things in life that can’t be improved with a slice of bread either side. Hmm, diets are for squares (or is that why they are dieting?) I’m sure people weren’t so allergic to things before they told us we could be allergic to things in the same way that everyone of late seems, and I mean no disrespect whatsoever here, either to be suffering from mental illness and/or is lesbian/gay/queer. Fact is, we are wonderful and all different no matter how much we try and homogenize ourselves into named groups and conditions, but then I suppose we all want to ‘belong’ somewhere. So I say ‘play-up’ to the pack of 3 assorted sandwiches for refusing to comply with the trend to be all cheese and ham.


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