A New Way to Wrap Sandwiches

September 20, 2013

Sandwich on sandwich wrap

For the past couple of years, I've been making and writing about the school lunches I make for my twins. About half of the time, I make them sandwiches, everything from ham to cucumber to poached tuna to roasted tomatoes -- you name it, and I've probably made it. And throughout this lunch-packing era, I've been struggling to find a way to wrap the sandwiches that would be less wasteful than wax paper, plastic wrap, or a plastic bag. I've tried the sandwich sacks and other cloth alternatives but none of them satisfy for a sandwich, which wants to be swaddled. Sandwich packaging also needs to be moisture-proof so an extra-juicy tomato doesn't leak all over the lunch box or bag.

Drawing of sandwich wrap design

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Frustrated, I decided to take matters into my own hands and mock up a solution. I drew out a plan, and my daughter, Addie, and I sewed up a felt prototype one Sunday this summer while watching the PGA on tv (golf is great for multi-tasking!). The wrap would need to be just wide enough to fold in the sides, and just long enough to wrap around both thin and bountiful sandwiches without excess fabric. Velcro seemed to be the right way to secure it closed. And it should be made of a sturdy, washable fabric so you could simply toss it in the laundry at the end of the day.

Sandwich wrap prototype 1

At Provisions we've been working with a wonderful napkin company in Georgia called Dot & Army. Jennifer Zamudio, the owner of the company, makes terrific seersucker napkins, which have been one of our best sellers. So we thought we'd ask her if she'd be interested in collaborating on the sandwich wrap.

Jennifer Zamudio of Dot & Army Dot & Army thread

Lucky us, we turned to the right person. One of the reasons Jennifer specializes in napkins is because her family went paper towel-free a few years ago. "I ran out of paper towels and I was like, 'I’m just not going to buy them anymore.' I got so tired of using them," Jennifer said. She began buying napkins at thrift stores and then realized it would be just as easy to make them herself. Soon after, she was sewing them on her Juki sewing machine and selling them on Etsy.

Dot & Army prototype 2

We sent Jennifer my amateur sandwich wrap prototype and drawing, and within two days we had a handful of prototypes, with varying velcro lengths and styles. Jennifer added a layer of nylon to the interior to catch moisture and selected an array of fabrics, which she sources at garage and estate sales. In a single round of revisions, we had our sandwich wrap ready for production. And, today, a month after we began, we present our first line of sandwich wraps at Provisions!

Here's how the wrap works:

Sandwich wrap step 1 Sandwich wrap step 2

Sandwich wrap step 3 Sandwich wrap label

And here are our first collection colors (they come in multi-color and single-color sets):

Sandwich wrap debut collection

P.S. When unwrapped, it functions as a placemat!

Sandwich wrap as placemat

Photos by James Ransom.

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Amanda Hesser

Written by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.


Corinne E. September 28, 2013
Simply perfect in every way. I'm giving the sandwich wraps for Christmas gifts this year to my co-workers and friends. They've already got the Dot and Army cloth napkins, so this will be a perfect match!
Amanda H. September 29, 2013
Thanks so much!
ChefJune September 23, 2013
VERY clever. and I love that when it's unfolded it makes a placemat. Will make eating at my desk so much more civilized.
Amanda H. September 29, 2013
Thanks June!
EatsMeetsWest September 22, 2013
This is why I come to Food52. All day, err day :)
EatsMeetsWest September 22, 2013
Question: would this be totally leak-proof, and does it come in just one size?
Amanda H. September 22, 2013
And we're happy to have you here. I wouldn't call it leak-proof -- I'd call it leak-resistant. The interior layer will hold back most moisture. I hope this is helpful!
allie September 22, 2013
I have a few wrap n mats as well, but these sound great. We ended up using them on vacation when packing lunch to go for the whole family (in addition to school lunch). I was also thinking this could be a fun way to pack a whole fruit that's a little juicy (plums maybe?) where a placemat/napkin would be helpful. And I love that they are beautiful colors!
Amanda H. September 29, 2013
Thanks, Allie!
Rochelle September 22, 2013
I love this. It is sooo cool
Amanda H. September 22, 2013
Thanks, Rochelle!
Kitchen B. September 21, 2013
You know what I love about you guys at Food52? You make me think everything is possible (in and with food). I love how you frequently translate concepts to products, and I LOVE how your engage your families doing it.

I love the sandwich wrap, if that wasn't already obvious!
Amanda H. September 21, 2013
Thanks Kitchen Butterfly -- we have a good time, families and all.
Mariana R. September 21, 2013
I want all for everyday lunch, I LOVE IT!!!
Amanda H. September 21, 2013
I'm trying to figure out which colors to order myself! I'm thinking a set of slate or the neutrals.
vvvanessa September 21, 2013
Super smart! I've tried wrapping non-drippy sandwiches in tea towels, but it's not very neat or efficient. These make so much sense.
Carrie V. September 20, 2013
Wow, I LOVE these sandwich wraps! Simple, beautiful, and useful. A way to get rid of those plastic bags...for good :)
Amanda H. September 21, 2013
Glad you like them!
rainey September 20, 2013
How do these work if you make a sandwich from a bread with a different profile like a wide sourdough or a flat pita or foccacia?
Amanda H. September 20, 2013
Great question. We tried a bunch of different shapes of breads and it works well.
Melissa@HomeBaked September 20, 2013
We have a couple Wrap-N-Mats, which are similar, and we love them. It's great that they serve as both a sandwich wrap and a placemat. I like your fabric options!
Amanda H. September 21, 2013
Yes, these work as a placemat, too! I actually forgot to mention this in my first draft, so thank you for reminding me. And I'll check out the Wrap-N-Mats, which I'm not familiar with!
cookinginvictoria September 20, 2013
Wow, I love these! As a mom who makes lunch with my eight year old daughter pretty much every day, these look great -- so stylish and clever and sustainable. I too am always trying to get around plastic wrap or foil (although foil we can often recycle here in Canada, so that gets used more frequently in my kitchen). The plastic sandwich boxes are a good option, but they often feel too big and unwieldy for my daughter's lunch kit, especially when I am trying to fit other food items into her kit. We no longer buy paper napkins either.

P.S. Will Provisions begin accepting orders that ship to Canada soon? Hope so!
Amanda H. September 21, 2013
We're hoping to start shipping to Canada in the new year, and sorry we can't do it sooner! It's more complicated than we'd hoped, but we'll figure it out asap.
AntoniaJames September 20, 2013
Brilliant! Love the fabrics, love the resourcefulness and especially (which won't surprise you, if you've noticed my regular haranguing here on Food52 about the thoughtless overuse of non-renewable and non-compostable resources), I appreciate this clever, important step in reducing our collective environmental impact. (When my boys were young, their sandwiches were invariably packed in plastic boxes, in which we also tucked carrots and other crudites. And a cloth napkin -- one that had seen better days when used at the table, but still serviceable -- was always sent as well. Hope you and Addie thought to file a patent application for this . . . . ;o)
Amanda H. September 21, 2013
Thanks, AJ!
HalfPint September 20, 2013
very chic. me like
Amanda H. September 21, 2013
Thanks HalfPint.