05 December 2011

Bobby Valentine Did Not Invent the Sandwich Wrap

Bobby Valentine claims he invented the sandwich wrap.  The story goes that Bobby decided to use a tortilla instead of bread on his menu for a restaurant he founded in 1980.  Of course, flatbread sandwiches long predate 1980 as tortillas and pitas have been used for sandwiches in Central America and the Mediterranean for decades if not centuries.  The distinction for the sandwich wrap though is that a sandwich traditionally made with slices of bread is instead made with a tortilla.

It is a statement that is too good to be true and it is.  In June 28, 1976's Desert News print a short blurb about pita bread and how you can use it to make regular sandwiches like cold cuts.  It also states that if you wish to give it a "taco-take off" to use a tortilla.  You can actually find earlier mentions of diet tips about replacing regular bread with pitas for sandwich's, but that 1976 column is the earliest I found mention of use a tortilla as a bread replacement.  You can also find earlier mentions of people using pitas for tuna sandwiches (1973) or lettuce to wrap their burgers.  Clearly the 70s were a time of extensive sandwich experimentation.

If one wishes to find an earlier functional incarnation of the sandwich wrap, we can look at this patent that was awarded in 1931.  The inventor was primarily concerned with creating a no mess sandwich and invented a tool to accomplish it.  It is a loaf hollower instead of a true wrap, but the basic idea is there for a wrap.  Combine the desire to create a sandwich that can contain juices and condiments with the increasing presence of tortillas in American restaurants and groceries...the idea that the sandwich wrap was invented in 1980 seems unlikely.  A better search feature than Google News would be able to find some mention of tortilla wrapped sandwiches that predate the 1976 column mentioned above.

I think we can silence Bobby Valentine's claim.  Someone might want to revise Wikipedia too as most organizations seemed to use that as their source to explore the claim.


I do believe that I invented the apple and cola drink back in 1985.  As a six year old I decided it to be a good idea to mix apple juice and coke on a 1:1 ratio that was imbibed by using a medicine dropper.  I remember it tasting fantastic.  After 20 years, I tried it again and it did not resurrect that fond memory.  I would like to see someone actually enjoy my invention because I certainly do not.

1 comment:

Barry Popik said...

I also proved that "wraps" were known before 1980. Tortilla roll-ups were served in the 1960s. "Wrap" was trademarked in the 1970s in a restaurant's name (Gyro Wrap, which became Great Wraps).

Someone really should correct Wikipedia.