From fried clams to marshmallow Fluff, these six New England sandwiches are regional classics we can’t live without.
By Chris Burnett
May 12 2021
A baked bean sandwich goes great with potato chips and root beer.Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
What comes to mind when you hear the words “Classic New England Foods“? Clam chowder? Sure! Lobster? Definitely! Maple syrup? Of course! But sandwiches? Probably not so much.
Surprisingly enough, several much-loved sandwiches can trace their origins back to New England. Here are six classic New England sandwiches that we can’t live without.
As many New Englanders will tell you, Saturday night has been and will always be baked beans night. That being said, if you happen to tire of just plain ol’ beans and franks one evening, all you have to do is take those beans, throw ’em between two slices of bread, and — bam! You’ve got yourself a baked bean sandwich!
A baked bean sandwich is one of the best uses for leftover beans from the weekend’s evening meal and is something that can be eaten any time of day. Some like to stick to using white bread, but Boston brown bread is another great option that will add even more flavor to the sandwich (and perhaps improve its structural integrity a little, too).
The clam roll often takes a back seat to its close cousin, the lobster roll, but its comparative unpopularity is undeserved. This simple sandwich typically consists of fried clams dressed with tartar or cocktail sauce and served in a white-bread roll or — even better — a classic New England hot dog bun. Fried clams are themselves a much-loved New England specialty, and they act as a crunchy, surprisingly-good filling for a sandwich. The most controversial part of the clam roll is whether you choose to use clam bellies or strips (made famous by Howard Johnson’s), but if you ask us, either one makes for a great lunch in the end.
MORE: The Last Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in New England
In comparison to most of the other sandwiches on this list, the chow mein sandwich is a bit more… unconventional. Native to Fall River, Massachusetts, the chow mein sandwich is one of those things you hear about, think to yourself “wait… seriously?” and then promptly add to your bucket list. The sandwich consists of all the usual chow mein ingredients — noodles, meat, onions, and celery — which are held together by a gravy-like sauce. This concoction is placed within a hamburger bun, though the word “within” is used loosely — the noodles are often overflowing onto the plate, so you would be wise to have a fork on hand.
Despite its potential for mess, this New England sandwich has consistently shown up on menus in Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ Fall River area since the 1930s.
As perhaps the most well-known sandwich to come out of New England, the lobster roll is dear to many Yankee hearts. The most rugged lobstermen claim that a proper lobster roll is made up of only two ingredients: lobster and roll. If you personally prefer a few more dressings on your sandwich, have no fear — you’ll find a variety of styles throughout New England that all taste delicious. Some lobster rolls include celery, lettuce, and mayo in their recipes, while others are simply marinaded with warm butter. Whether you like them cold or hot, or plain or dressed, a homemade lobster roll accompanied by a bag of crispy potato chips makes for the perfect summer meal on the New England seacoast.
MORE: 10 Best Lobster Rolls in New England, The Best Lobster Rolls in Maine, The Best Cape Cod Lobster Rolls
The Fluffernutter will surely go down in history as one of New England’s most beloved and nostalgia-inducing sandwiches. Creamy marshmallow goodness combined with rich peanut butter on two slices of Wonder bread? I mean, what’s not to love? The Fluffernutter’s simplicity and tastiness are practically unrivaled and, as a result, it’s held on as a lunchtime favorite of young and old New Englanders for decades.
Marshmallow Fluff, which is the cornerstone of any self-respecting Fluffernutter, is itself a New England invention. It was created just outside Boston in the early 1900s by a pair of candy makers and has been a New England staple ever since.
Alternatively, strawberry- or raspberry-flavored Fluff can be substituted for the plain variety to (only metaphorically) spice things up a bit.
The Italian Sandwichis a Portland, Maine, spin on what most of us would refer to as a sub or grinder. Made with American cheese and ham, Maine Italians are topped with diced onion, sour pickles, tomatoes, green peppers, and black olives. On top of that? A generous drizzle of olive oil, plus a shake of salt and pepper. A chain called Amato’s is considered to be the origin of and authority on Maine Italian Sandwiches.
Which New England sandwich is your favorite?
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.