Manners Mentor Five Sandwich Etiquette Tips

By: Maralee McKee


Summer has officially blown Florida a fiery kiss. The temperature is hot, and the humidity is high. At the end of a sweltering day, I’m often not in the mood for a heavy dinner. On those evenings, a sandwich is just what I’m craving.

Two pieces of bread and a yummy filling! Seems easy enough to manage, but sometimes they can be a handful in more ways than one!

Sandwich-Eating Help to the Rescue!

A dribble here and there isn’t a concern when you’re eating with your family on the back porch, but put yourself at a business lunch or a ladies’ luncheon, and all of a sudden you think, “OK, I’m making a mess and seeming clueless.” Not a good feeling when you want to impress or at least not seem like a sandwich is getting the best of your dining abilities.

I’ve been there with you, wiping mayo and sweet pickle relish off my chin! Then I picked up a few sandwich-eating how-tos that make eating one a breeze, just like the breeze I hope for every hot, humid Florida evening.

Here are the five sandwich etiquette tips you’ll use all the time!

(After the etiquette tips is a bit about where my family and I will be as you read this post!)

1. Club Sandwiches: It’s nice to get your money’s worth when you order a sandwich, but when it’s too big to fit into the mouth of the Jolly Green Giant, it’s hard to manage at all, let alone gracefully.

Here’s your secret: Remove the toothpick from the first sandwich wedge. Next, remove the top piece of bread and place it on the side of your plate. If you want to use your knife to wipe some of the mayo from the piece of bread onto the sandwich filling, that’s OK. Just don’t draw attention by being at it all day! 🙂

Now you’ve just turned your finger food into silverware-ready food! Use your knife and fork to easily eat the sandwich. Cut and eat one bite at a time. Very classy, very savvy, very smart!

If you want, you can eat the top piece of bread with your fingers when you’ve finished your sandwich. But unless you’re just really hungry, or really concerned with wasting, you’re better off to leave it uneaten.

2. Hamburgers: Unless you’re eating one in a fast food restaurant or it’s small, cut it in half before eating it with your hands. Sometimes you might even need to cut the sandwich into fourths, but start out by trying to manage half. Also, you can use your fork to remove some of the tomatoes, onions, pickles, etc., that might be making the sandwich too hard to handle. Place those on the side of your plate, and then eat them with your knife and fork.

3. Sub Sandwiches: It’s best to cut them in half before eating, especially hot sub sandwiches like meatball or Philly cheese steak (yum, on both accounts!). If they’re still a mess when you cut them in half, they can be eaten with a knife and fork.

4. Hot Open-faced Sandwiches: This one is easy. Always use a knife and fork, and cut just one bite at a time.

5. Tea Sandwiches: Even the name makes me feel restful and refined! Every lady enjoys a good tea sandwich! (Curry orange chicken is my favorite! Remind me, and I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post. You’ll love it!) Usually, tea sandwiches, no matter how formal the gathering or setting, are finger foods. The possible exception is when the sandwich is served open-faced and there is a knife and fork at your place. Then you can use them to cut and eat the sandwich. Normally, I won’t use them, because tea sandwiches just aren’t likely to make a mess.

6. One Extra Tip! I know — I said five, but I just remembered this great one and wanted you to have it! In a casual gathering, it’s fine to put your condiments straight from the container onto your sandwich or burger. At a business meal or more formal gathering, first place any condiments on the side of your plate, then use your knife to transfer them to your sandwich. Why? This shows you follow procedures (a great asset in an employee!) and you pay attention to detail (a great asset in a friend!).

Now, about my week!

Usually when you’re reading my latest post, I’m at home typing away, writing my etiquette curriculum or your next post. Not today! Right now, I’m in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on a quick trip around the state.

We’re visiting friends and some of my husband’s clients (they’re friends now, too!) in Macon, Athens (Go Bull Dawgs!), Lawrenceville, Stone Mountain, and, we hope, Savannah! I’m looking forward to every minute of our family time together.

Well, everything except trying to get my youngest out of the hotel swimming pool every evening. (“Please, Mommy, just four more minutes!”) We don’t have a pool at our house, so going swimming is an extra special treat for him. It’s so fun that coaxing him out of the pool is our own Battle of Waterloo.

What I do look forward to is spending our time in the same car and room for 24 hours a day. (OK, on about day three I reserve the right to amend that last sentence!) But you get my drift; my little ones are growing, and now they’re excited about hotel swimming pools, fried peach pies from our favorite orchard stand, shopping at the mall of Georgia, fishing in a trout pond, and eating at Paula Deen’s Restaurant in Savannah.

These days are fleeting. I plan to hang on with the grip of life to every second! Even the “Mom, I don’t want to get out of the pool yet!” and the “Can I watch Madagascar Two again (for the seventh time) on the minivan DVD?”

It sure beats the conversation that will occur on vacation in about ten years when the boys are in college. Me, after about 15 miles of silence, to Kent, my sweet husband: “I wonder how Marc and Corbett are today? Remember when we used to come up here with them, and they ate so many fried peach pies that we thought we were going to have to pull over because Corbett was going to be sick?”

Cherish today! Despite its frustrations, the day you make the memory is sweeter than the day you remember it!

I’ll be back next week! I have a new camera, and I’m going to try to take some pictures for you!

I’ll think of you as I eat my peach pies!

If this is your first visit, welcome! Join me by adding your email address now in the box below this post or below any post. It will be a joy to have you as part of our great, gracious family!



maralee mckee


Maralee McKee

About Maralee McKee

Maralee McKee is the founder of Manners Mentor. With her best-friend style, sense of humor, and knack for updating etiquette to meet our modern sensibilities, she has been referred to as "Sandra Bullock meets Emily Post!" Maralee shows you how to become the best version of yourself. No fluff. No pretense. Just you at your authentic best! The person you were always meant to be! To learn more about Maralee click on the "Meet Maralee" or "New? Start Here" links at the top of this page.

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