Historical Highlights

The House debated the merits of its own club sandwich

May 06, 1930
The House debated the merits of its own club sandwich Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
The House club sandwich appears on the earliest menu in the House Collection, in 1933, when it cost 50 cents, down from 70 cents when the debate took place in 1930.
On this date, the House debated the merits of its own club sandwich, a triple-decker delight of chicken, bacon, tomato and lettuce. Representative Charles Underhill of Massachusetts strode to the well of the House with two sandwiches. In support of the House Restaurant’s funding request, put forth by Underhill’s Committee on Accounts, he compared the House club favorably with one from a local cafeteria. Newspapers reported his rousing defense – “Look at the size of this piece of chicken and compare it with this piece of chicken in our own restaurant, and with this larger piece of chicken, and large piece of toast, more mayonnaise, tomato and lettuce, we get only 5 cents more for our sandwich.” Underhill’s antagonist in the culinary drama was Frank Murphy of Ohio. He insulted the fare and impugned the honor of Underhill’s committee when he questioned its ability to run the restaurant, said Underhill. Murphy fired back, asking why the restaurant had stopped serving “those little pieces of cheese” with pie. The principals were beyond seeing any humor in the matter; other Members were not. Several legislative luminaries leapt to make sport of the two. Florence Kahn of California spoke “as a housekeeper for many, many years, I want to testify to the cleanliness, the exceptional quality and service in the House restaurant.” Future Speaker William Bankhead of Alabama asked about ham sandwiches for “those of us who can’t afford club sandwiches and don’t eat them,” and Sol Bloom of New York added “That’s the question.” Another future Speaker, John McCormack of Massachusetts, broke in with more regional pride than relevance, to add “And I want to know when we are going to be able to get some real Boston baked beans and a New England boiled supper.” The Congressional Record shows that the House did not resolve the bill that day, and in fact did not pass it until early June.

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