John Montagu - the fourth Earl of Sandwich and a rapacious card-player.

The British town of Sandwich staged a dramatic re-enactment of the moment when the town’s earl was said to have invented the sandwich,in order to mark the 250th anniversary of the bread-based snack.

Dressed in 18th-century costume, actors recreated the night when John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich and a rapacious card-player “called for a slice of beef between two toasted pieces of bread so that he could carry on gaming uninterrupted”, said a website that was set up to advertise the event.

Legend states that others began asking for “the same as Sandwich!” and thus named what was to become a classic foodstuff.

In a weekend festival that was held to mark the occasion, the south-eastern English port town also held a sandwich-making competition in order to commemorate the date and arranged concerts of the “bawdy and lively tunes” favoured by the earl, who also had a “penchant for dressing in Turkish robes”, the website says.

A food fair that featured foods and drinks that go with, or help to make a sandwich more enjoyable, was also organised.

The current earl hosted a huge sandwich lunch in tribute to “the fourth earl of Sandwich who, 250 years ago, had his masterly inspiration in creating the universal fast food the world knows and loves”, a poster said.

Historians are sceptical of the claim that the earl actually invented the sandwich.

They argue that the popular foodstuff belongs to a long line of bread-based snacks stretching back much further than the 18th century.

However, such debates about historical accuracy did not stop the town from celebrating its local hero with aplomb. – Sapa-AFP