Nobody Can Agree What The Bread On An English Bacon Sandwich Is Called

If you've ever been to the U.K., you may have noticed that bacon sandwiches aren't always called "bacon sandwiches." Although the difference between a bacon cob and a bacon roll might seem like splitting hairs, it's part of a regional debate that has gone on for years.

A bacon sandwich ordered from a British cafe is typically served on a bun rather than on bread from a loaf, and that's where this debate arises. Four major terms are used for the bun, with a few more obscure ones appearing in certain counties. According to a 2018 YouGov survey, "bread roll" is the most common term, used by 52% of English people. This is amended to "roll" in some parts of the North West. Much of the English language is rooted in more ancient lexicons, and "roll" is said to have arrived with the Norman invasion in the 11th century.

The three other major terms are confined to specific pockets of the country. In the North East and some parts of Yorkshire and Cumbria, "bun" is the prevalent term. With links to the Gaelic "bonnach" and the French "buignete," the word's origins are murky. In the Midlands, people refer to it as a "cob," apparently because the bread resembles cobbles when baked in batches. In the North West, "barm" and "barm cake" are used, likely descending from Old Germanic.

What do Brits think makes the perfect bacon sandwich?

While English counties are divided over what to call their bacon sandwiches, their popularity is nearly universal. From burger vans to independent bakeries to fancy tearooms, you will find a bacon sandwich on the menu with surprisingly little variation in the key ingredients — bacon, bread, and sauce.

There are some variations, but they're minor and come down to personal preference rather than regional divides. However — according to a study conducted by Ironmongery Direct (via the British Sandwich & Food to Go Association) — most prefer their bacon sandwich with three slices of bacon, a white bun, and brown sauce. Others prefer ketchup (or no sauce), and around a quarter of folks like to have their bun toasted. Only 43% of Brits butter their bun, perhaps feeling that lashes of sauce are enough.

The lack of specific regional recipes doesn't stop you from applying an English upgrade to your own breakfast sandwich, though. One way to emulate the hungry builders (and hungover people) who frequent English burger vans and greasy spoons is to add some sausages or a fried egg to your sandwich. You could also try switching ketchup for brown sauce to match the Brits — or use hot sauce for more of a kick. Alternatively, you could completely restructure the sandwich by wrapping bacon around a grilled cheese sandwich for the perfect bacon lovers grilled cheese.