It’s National Sandwich Day!

It’s hard to choose just one favorite, there are so many good ones.

But the worst sandwich?

There’s a pretty clear champion in that category, though, to be fair, it wasn’t ever really intended to be eaten.

It was known as the Raines sandwich, and it got its name from the Raines Law championed by New York State Senator John Raines.

Lawmakers decided there was too much crime and seediness associated with the thousands of bars and saloons in the state, especially in New York City.

And so the law squeezed those establishments, in particular by barring them from serving alcohol on Sundays.

Bar owners howled; Sunday was often their busiest day of the week.

Back then it was the only day off for working class people.

The workers protested too: many of them were German and Irish immigrants.

They thought the law targeted them – because it shut down service at the places where they drank, while creating a loophole for places that served drinks to middle and upper class people.

As written, the law allowed alcohol on Sundays at lodging houses with 10 rooms or more, and only when served along with a meal.

You can see where this is going, right?

As Atlas Obscura reported, rather than let the law squeeze them, the working class bars decided to squeeze the law back by using that loophole.

Proprietors turned their storage areas into “rooms” for their “guests” or “members.”

And with every drink they served a “meal,” which prosecutors in the city said had to be at least a sandwich.

The law only said the food had to be served, not eaten, so at many watering holes the Raines sandwiches were brought to the table with beer or other spirits, and then quickly brought to the next table.

Not that people were disappointed to lose out; the bread was often stale, there was little to no material inside, and in some cases the “meat” was actually rubber!

Lawmakers tried again and again to tighten the rules, but time and time again proprietors made new end-runs around the law.

The Raines Sandwich stopped being a thing when the U.S. added an amendment barring alcohol to the Constitution.

And the end runs around Prohibition made these inedible little sandwiches look pretty quaint by comparison.

Today in 1984, the number one song on the Billboard pop chart was “Caribbean Queen” by Billy Ocean.

He actually recorded several versions of the same song, with queens from different parts of the world.

So you may instead remember Billy Ocean’s hit song as “European Queen” or “African Queen.”

Though they all said “no more love on the run.”

To Evade Pre-Prohibition Drinking Laws, New Yorkers Created the World’s Worst Sandwich (Atlas Obscura)

Billy Ocean – European Queen (Discogs)

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Illustration via Wikicommons