It’s confirmed. Whether it’s the trusty cheese and ham toasty or a lockdown special, Ireland’s passion for bread is still alive and well. According to new research from the Irish Bread Bakers Association (IBBA) to mark World Sandwich Day, we love a slice of bread (97%), and while we might experiment with different ingredients, we know our favourite sandwich fillings and tend to stick to them. It also seems the trusty sandwich could be an important - and tasty - coping mechanism during COVID. Not only is the ritual of sandwich making important to us, the research shows that for many (45%) our favourite sandwich is our ‘go-to’ comfort food, increasing to almost seven in ten (69%) aged 18-25 year olds.
Young people especially have become more adventurous with their sandwiches during lockdown. Almost 70% of those aged 18-24 year have tried out different sandwich fillings, perhaps seeking something new and interesting to alleviate the boredom of lockdown.
According to psychologist, Niamh Hannan, while some people thrive in times of uncertainty, others will look for a sense of control, stability and predictability, which helps to reduce anxiety and enhance a sense of comfort and safety. “So people reach for their favourite sandwich, and they might add a new ingredient to bring a little excitement to the day. But, as the IBBA research shows, people don't stray far and mostly go for what they know and love.
“Also during COVID many people have been highly stressed. Making a sandwich doesn't require too much thought. It’s a break from the pressure - something safe, routine and reliable amidst all the change and unpredictability. This can be a helpful coping mechanism,” she added. Almost three quarters (72%) of those surveyed like to get all their ingredients ready before they start to make their sandwich, while two thirds (66%) ensure that they always have ingredients at home to make a sandwich.
And what an array of ingredients it could be! While a toasted ham and cheese special is still our favourite (25%), the survey revealed that we’ll eat a wide variety of sandwiches:
· A chicken or turkey sandwich with stuffing is Ireland’s second most popular sandwich – so children may not be the only ones counting down the days to Christmas!
· No place like home – almost 6 in 10 (56%) admit that if their ideal sandwich was a country, it would be Ireland, followed by Italy (11%) and Spain (8%).
· Chicken Tikka with sliced onion bhaji is the unusual sandwich filling people would be most willing to try (34%), just ahead of baked beans with cheese and bacon (31%).
· Those aged over 55 are less likely than the national average to try any of the unusual options offered except for a banana and mayonnaise sandwich - an indication, perhaps, that banana sandwiches are nostalgic for that age group – even with some mayo added in!
· One in ten admitted they’d eat anything between two slices of bread
It seems young people (18 -24 year olds) are less willing to share their sandwich if asked (55% against national average of 64%), so it’s not surprising that the majority of them prefer to eat their favourite sandwich on their own – almost twice as many as the national average (72% versus 36%).
And while we can all make a sandwich, many of us (44%) admit that the best sandwiches are the ones we don't have to make ourselves - good news for the many cafés and sandwich retailers that have seen a significant fall in business since March as people work from home.
Ailbhe Byrne, Irish Bread Bakers Association says “This survey confirms bread’s special place in the Irish diet. It’s an affordable, convenient and nutritious source of food that scientific evidence shows is good to eat and can contribute to a healthy diet,” she said.