The Christmas sandwich has become such an event nowadays that most high street sandwich shops and supermarkets sell them — with Pret going so far as to introduce a countdown to the release of their version (it went on sale at noon on 10 November). The classic Christmas sandwich generally contains a combination of turkey, bacon, stuffing, mayo, cranberry sauce or chutney and some sort of leafage, and so it’s this we’ve concentrated on (in the main) for this taste test. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes making festive fillings too of course, but for the purposes of this sandwich-off we’ve stuck to the high street.
Unable to find a classic sandwich, we ended up with the Caffe Nero 'festive collection', a half and half combo of the turkey, cranberry sauce and pork stuffing filling, and the Brie, cranberry and rocket, both on sage and onion bread. Unfortunately, neither are very good. The turkey sandwich has an unnerving pasty texture, clinging to the roof of the mouth with the tenacity of peanut butter. The stuffing is an achievement in that it manages to be both bland and overwhelming at the same time, and there is only word that comes to mind when conjuring memories of the turkey and that word is, we're sorry to say, farty.
The Brie and cranberry emerges from the box under a dark cloud of shame, for it is soggy. Surely, this is the worst of all sandwich crimes, and there isn't even any tomato involved. Upon closer inspection the culprit was revealed to be slimy salad leaves. This is where Brie goes to die.
Price: £3.15 (take away).
Charity Donation: Nope.
The turkey and trimmings sandwich contains turkey (duh), pork sausage, diced bacon, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo on — wait for it — malted bread. First impressions of this one aren't good, and our appetite is further stunted by the sight of sad grey pucks of sausage lurking inside, swollen and flabby, like dog treats that fell into the water bowl. Somehow, the predominant taste here is the bread (malty) and the whole thing is reminiscent of a brown food buffet. Our cat sniffed once and walked away.
Charity Donation: Zilch.
The Waitrose sandwich contains turkey, pork and chestnut stuffing, bacon, cranberry, port and orange chutney, spinach and mayo on — brace yourselves — malted bread! This is definitely among the freshest of the sandwiches we tasted, and we can detect the flavour of each filling. Also, despite this sandwich being essentially all about protein and chutney, we really appreciated the generous amount of spinach, important for texture and contrast (not to mention cheering colour) in a sandwich that tends to smoosh together into a meaty wedge. Overall, there's an impressive 'traditional roast' flavour, too.
We come plummeting back to reality when seduced at the last minute by the intriguing 'three bird roast wrap'. The box is (rather cleverly, we think), shaped like a cracker, but what emerges from within is flaccid and pale, like a bloated sea worm. The tortilla has the exact texture of uncooked pastry and we find it hard to detect the flavour of one bird, let alone three. It's based of course on the Turducken, which is a chicken stuffed into a duck, stuffed into a turkey, a seemingly rather ostentatious way to enjoy three birds less than you would if you cooked them individually. We'll ignore this one and rate the turkey effort instead.
Charity Donation: Zip.
Price: £3.29 (take away)
Charity Donation: Nowt, as far as we can tell.
Pret a Manger
If Eat's sandwich is the edible equivalent of the bit in It's A Wonderful Life when George Bailey trashes the living room, makes his kids and wife cry, then goes to launch himself off the local bridge, Pret's is the bit where he realises he's really had a wonderful life, skids through Bedford Falls screaming "Yay!" and then makes back the thousands of dollars he's recently lost in small change donations. This is a real Christmas dinner in bread; thick wodges of turkey breast, herby stuffing, lashings of mayo and — an ingenious touch — crispy shards of onion (yes, it's on malted bread). Every mouthful of this thing makes you realise It's a Wonderful Sandwich, and the fact it's made on-premises is no coincidence. In true George Bailey style, it's a charitable affair too; 50p from every one goes to good causes. Attaboy, Pret.
Price: £3.60 (take away)
Charity Donation: 50p. You can even choose between charities (displayed on the sticker).