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 sandwich very similar in content and method of preparation to a hoagie in the United States. In contemporary times, it is 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]

Gatsbys 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]


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.[4][7] This practice has carried on in modern times, with Gatsbys being purveyed in full, half and quarter sizes.[8]

The sandwich is named after The Great Gatsby,[1] a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Rashaad Pandy—the proprietor of a fish and chips fast food store called Super Fisheries located in Athlone, Cape Town—claims to have invented it one night in 1976, when he tried to feed some day labourers after he had run out of fish.[1][6] This creation was prepared with a round Portuguese loaf of bread, fried bologna, chips and achar.[6] One of the laborers, nicknamed "Froggie,"[1] stated something to the effect of "This is fantastic—a Gatsby smash!".[6] The word smash at the time was a local slang term for a flavorful dish.[6] At the time, the Robert Redford version of the film The Great Gatsby had recently screened at the Athlone Bioscope.[2][4][6] It was also stated at the time that the round loaf of bread used was in the shape of "the newsboy cap worn by Robert Redford in the movie."[6] After this, Pandy began to purvey the sandwiches in his store, starting the next day following the dish's creation, and after some time they became popular, selling " a pace he describes as “unreal."[1]

Pandy continues to purvey the original version of the Gatsby sandwich at his fish and chips shop in Athlone, which is still named Super Fisheries, along with other types of sandwiches.[1] The shop later used foot-long rolls, referred to as "drumsticks", rather than the original round roll, to enable easier portioning of the sandwich.[2] Pandy has stated that the original polony Gatsby sandwich continues to be the most popular variety among customers at his store.[2]


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]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kavonic, Dayle (April 17, 2015). "The Gatsby Sandwich". Capetown Magazine. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h 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 g h 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 c d e f g h The Editors. "The Great Gatsby". Saveur. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Parham, Kate (August 4, 2014). "Traveler's Table: Sandwiches around the world". USA Today. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 
  8. ^ Hoeller, Sophie-Claire (March 3, 2014). "28 must-eat sandwiches from around the world". Thrillist. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 

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