Gatsby (sandwich)

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A close-up view of a personal-sized Gatsby sandwich prepared with calamari and chips
A close-up view of a personal-sized Gatsby sandwich prepared with calamari and chips
Type Sandwich
Place of origin South Africa
Region or state Cape Town
Main ingredients Bread rolls, French fries, meat or seafood (masala steak, chicken, polony,[1] Vienna sausage, calamari, fish), sauce
Cookbook: Gatsby
A Gatsby sandwich
A Gatsby sandwich

A Gatsby is a South African submarine sandwich typically sold as a foot-long sandwich sliced into four portions.[2] It is a popular sandwich in the Western Cape province,[3] with many fast food and takeaway restaurants, stores[1] and food stands purveying them. One large sandwich may be shared among several people.[2] The gatsby is also sometimes referred to as the nickname AK‑47, in part due to how it can be held in one's arm in a similar manner to the firearm.[4] It has been described as a "filling, budget meal", a standard menu item in Cape Town corner stores,[2] and as a significant part of the heritage and a cultural symbol of Cape Flats, where it originated from.[1]

Gatsby usually consist of long bread rolls cut lengthwise and opened up to form a sort of cradle which is filled with various fillings.[2][5] While the choice of filling in a gatsby varies widely depending on customer preference and vendor, one standard item is usually hot chips, i.e., French fries[5] or slap chips (French fries with vinegar).[6] Hot dog buns and roti flat bread are sometimes used, and it is typically prepared using a sauce,[3] most commonly achar or piri piri.[6] They are typically a large-sized sandwich, and have been described as suitable for sharing among several people.[1]

Different varieties of gatsbys use meat ingredients such as chargrilled steak,[5] masala steak,[2] fresh or pickled fish,[5] calamari,[1] chicken, polony, curry,[3][5] Vienna sausage, Russian sausage and eggs.[1][4]

Most essential part being a large filled meal with consistently fresh ingredients.


Gatsbys originated in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town,[1] where people would often buy large rolls and fill them with whatever leftovers they had from the previous evening's supper put in for lunch the next day.

The gatsby is traditionally made using foot-long rolls, referred to by bakers as "drumsticks rolls", rather than the original hamburger roll popularised overseas, to enable easier filling of the sandwich. The original polony gatsby sandwich continues to be the most popular variant among customers as this is the cheapest form of the delicious meal.

The sandwich is named after The_Great_Gatsby,[1] a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Nobody really knows when or how the concept came about (even though many falsely laid claim to be the originators because of its popularity) except that it originated in various factories in and around in the 70s. It is believed that the workers from factories in an around Cape Town would share lunches and thus created sandwiches from whatever they had for lunch that day. As the the french loaf allowed for extra filling space, they would prefer to use these over tradition bread slices that way it could also be easier shared amongst co-workers. A gatsby is thus better enjoyed when shared and best served in its largest form.

Though nowadays the gatsby takes on all shapes, combinations and sizes ensuring that you stay filled for less with the most popular being a fresh foot long sandwich with French fries (also known as slap chips in Cape Town) with you taste of polony, Vienna, Russian, chicken, fish or steak. As the gatsby is large, filling and cheap meal this practice has carried on in modern times with the gatsby purveyed in full, half and quarter sizes.This practice of combining various combinations of food in a singular meal became popular all around Cape Town as with another original to Cape Town recipe Potjiekos and continues to grow in its popularity even amongst the wealthier patrons.


In October 2013, an event in Cape Town occurred at a waterfront where chefs prepared a gatsby sandwich that was over 8 meters long.[4] A focus of the event was, per its organizers, to create South Africa’s "first official heart-healthy Gatsby."[4] The sandwich was modified to increase fiber content and to lower sodium, saturated fat and total fat, making the sandwich more heart-healthy.[4] Pharma Dynamics sponsored the event.[4]

There are now also Rules to Eating a Gatsby - making this an even more popular social activity than just eating another sandwich.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Kavonic, Dayle (April 17, 2015). "The Gatsby Sandwich". Capetown Magazine. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Weiss, Andrea (June 21, 2013). "Where to find a gatsby in Cape Town". South African Tourism. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Albala, K. (2011). Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia: [Four Volumes]. Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-313-37627-6. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Merwe, Marelise van der (October 9, 2013). "In search of Cape Town’s own Great Gatsby". Daily Maverick. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Lehman, A.; Fodor's Travel Publications, I.S. (2005). Fodor's South Africa. Fodor's Gold Guides. Fodor's Travel Publications. p. 1-PA58. ISBN 978-1-4000-1366-1. 
  6. ^ a b The Editors. "The Great Gatsby". Saveur. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 

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