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
Place of originSouth Africa
Region or stateCape Town
Main ingredientsBread rolls, French fries, meat or seafood (masala steak, chicken, polony,[1] Vienna sausage, calamari, fish), sauce
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 mistakenly referred to by the nickname AK‑47, which is a variant of the sandwich made in Johannesburg, 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.[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]


The Gatsby sandwich originated in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town,[1] where Athlone shop owner Rashaad Pandy was renovating a new location. He wanted to serve a quick but filling meal to his hired help, so he put South-African-style French fries known colloquially as "slap chips," polony and achaar in a large round of bread and cut this into wedges. One of the workers, a gentleman who went by the moniker Froggy, upon tasting a piece of this sandwich, called it a "Gatsby smash," after the 1974 movie, The Great Gatsby, which had been shown recently at an Athlone cinema. The name stuck and Pandy subsequently offered the sandwich in the shop. [7][8][9][10] [11][12] It immediately became popular with locals. As the popularity grew, he contracted with a local bakery to provide a longer, French-style roll for the sandwich. This is ultimately the form which became hugely popular and eventually became one of South Africa's most well-known fast-foods.

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 the choice of polony, Vienna, Russian, chicken, fish or steak. As the Gatsby is a 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 and continues to grow in 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 m (26 ft) 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 Kavonic, Dayle (17 April 2015). "The Gatsby Sandwich". Cape Town Magazine. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Weiss, Andrea (21 June 2013). "Where to find a gatsby in Cape Town". South African Tourism. Retrieved 17 April 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 (9 October 2013). "In search of Cape Town's own Great Gatsby". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 17 April 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.
  7. ^ "The Story Behind One Of Cape Town's Favourite Foods: The Gatsby". Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  8. ^ "5 great gatsbys in Cape Town". Eat Out. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  9. ^ "The Late-Night Cape Town Sandwich Named After the Great Gatsby". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  10. ^ Blignaut, Maryn (24 October 2018). "Gatsby Sandwich: Cape Town's Most Beloved Food". Briefly. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  11. ^ Jim (31 May 2016). "Just How Great is a Gatsby?". Sandwich Tribunal. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  12. ^ "History of Cape Town's quintessential street food - the Gatsby". Food24. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.

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