I had some leftover homemade Thousand Island dressing from The History of Thousand Island Dressing post and I decided to try a sandwich that kept popping up in 1970s newspapers during the research. So I did a quick search for the catchy named “Lucky Seven” sandwich which is aptly named due to the fact it uses seven ingredients (well sort of but more on that later). I pulled up the recipe to write down the ingredients to test it out for what should be an easy blog post……until I spotted that this was not an article from the 1970s but instead 1957. Wait, that is significantly early than I remember seeing this recipe which meant now my brain wants to go down the rabbit hole of research. Man, I almost got out lucky…
Real quick before I get into the research side of this recipe I will explain what is a lucky seven sandwich. It is an open-faced sandwich that is layered with ingredients which according to a 1961 article are “French or rye bread, thick slices of turkey breast, Swiss cheese, crisp bacon, tender lettuce, thin tomato slices – and for the seventh lucky layer, a taste-appealing Thousand Island dressing”. Now in some of the articles, especially the earlier recipes, sliced hard-boiled egg is one of the seven layers and the Thousand Island is just extra. Others add olives and pickles as a garnish and I guess they considered garnishes outside of the “lucky seven” layers as well.
So in my research, the earliest I could find this sandwich featured in a newspaper was in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on August 31, 1944. This was clearly during the World War II rationing period so this recipe offered up this sandwich as not only an easy Sunday night supper but also one that uses up a small amount of the ingredients. It was again featured after the war in The Pittsburgh Press on January 10, 1946, where the article talks about now that rationing was over and meats were more readily available, sandwiches such as these are easier to make. Both of these 1940s recipes though use slices of chicken instead of the turkey which was not a meat used much outside of the holidays until the ’50s. So from the 1950s on, chicken was never mentioned again as one of the ingredients. The latest I could find this recipe mentioned was in 1985.
So there are two times of the year when this recipe would pop up. First, it was hailed as the perfect summertime sandwich. A 1960 article in the Baltimore Afro-American said to “give your picnickers a new treat with a ‘Lucky Seven’ sandwich”. A 1955 article summed up the feelings of the sandwich with the title “Lucky Seven Sandwich Boon to Homemakers in Summer”. The other time was obviously after Thanksgiving such as a 1981 article calling it a next-day delight.
There was also a shared sentiment between most of the articles that this was practically a balanced meal with there being bread, dairy, meat as well as veggies all in this sandwich. A 1972 article said that any recipient of the sandwich would be lucky as this was “an all-in-one luncheon dish”. Other articles agreed that this sandwich was the perfect meal for almost anytime whether feeding a family or friends whether it was hot or cold outside.
If you like the idea of this open-faced sandwich and are looking for another one then I might point you to Angie Dickinson’s Honeymoon Sandwiches.
Lucky Seven Sandwich
An easy open faced sandwich found in newspapers from the 1940s all the way to the mid 1980s
- 1 slice rye bread (or any kind you have on hand)
- 1 to 2 slices of Swiss cheese (or what ever you prefer)
- 2 thin slices of tomato
- 2 iceberg lettuce leaves
- 2 strips crispy bacon
- 1 to 2 slices of turkey
- Thousand Island dressing, bottled or homemade
- Optional: pickles and olives for garnish
- Place the slice of bread on a plate and layer the sandwich in the order the ingredients are giving. Either ladle the Thousand Island dressing on top of the sandwich or serve on the side. Garnish with olives and/or pickles if desired.
- If you want this to be more authentic to the 1940s and 1950s, butter your bread before layering on the other ingredients. Also those early recipes usually served the bacon on the side or as a 1946 article mentioned to have it “border the sandwich”.
- Also many of the earlier recipes added a slice or two of a hardboiled egg on top of the sandwich before ladling on the Thousand Island dressing.
“Breast of Turkey Stars in ‘Lucky Seven Sandwich'”. Rome News-Tribune. February 16, 1972
Flanery, Mildred. “Turkey Sandwich Buffet Always Good”. Independent Press Telegram. October 25, 1962.
“Easy Eating Sandwich Comes in All Shapes and Sizes”. The Herald. May 1, 1985.
Gibson, Josephine. “Big, Hearty Sandwiches Make Quick, Delicious Meals”. The Pittsburgh Press. January 10, 1946.
Hanson, Carol. “Sandwich Days Are Here!” The Post Crescent. September 9, 1980
“Lucky Seven Sandwich”. The Bradenton Herald. August 2, 1978.
“Lucky-Seven Sandwich for Hot Summer Days”. Richmond County Journal. May 13, 1957.
“‘Lucky Seven’ Sandwich is Tasty, Balance Meal”. The Spokesman-Review July 31, 1955.
“Lucky-Seven Turkey Sandwich For Summer”. Times Daily. July 11, 1957.
“Next-Day Delights”. The Central New Jersey Home News. November 25, 1981.
“One Dish Treat”. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 31, 1944.
Patterson, Betsy. “Watermelon Ice Hot Day Dessert”. Baltimore Afro-American. July 2, 1960.
Penny, Prudence. “Lucky Seven Sandwich Boon to Homemakers in Summer”. Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. August 4, 1955.
“Summertime is Sandwich Time”. Eugene Register Guard. August 30, 1961.
“Turkey’s Good Eating Through the Year”. The Anson Record. June 2, 1970.