Vintage Sandwich Board

’50s Frosted Sandwich Loaf

January 23, 2016

Earning of pride-of-place on many a ’40s and ’50s shower table, the frosted sandwich loaf was a tower of cream-cheese slathered creativity.  Vegetable, meat, fish, cheese, fruit-and-nut fillings, and flavored butters were spread over breads, stacked and sliced in patterns (gangplank, ribbon, checkerboard) and then covered in whipped cream cheese that could be “delicately tinted with a few drops of vegetable coloring.”

The challenge lay in the composition: fillings for the multiple layers needed to create harmony of flavor plus contrast in texture. So should it be cheese and bacon, layered with olive-butter and onion cream cheese? Or maybe apricot-cream with a nutty cheese layer? We played around with several and liked this chicken & cucumber salad with onion-cream cheese version we tested in response to requests by reader Christine Sebek. 

'50s Frosted Sandwich Loaf
Serves 6
In the '40s and '50s, the frosted sandwich loaf was a tower of cream-cheese-slathered creativity, featuring fillings spread over breads stacked in elaborate checkerboard & ribbon patterns. Here's ours--have fun with it!
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For sandwich loaf
  1. 1 small loaf unsliced white bread
  2. 1 small loaf unsliced wheat bread
  3. 1 stick butter, softened
  4. 2 cups roast chicken breast meat, finely ground
  5. 1 cup, finely-chopped cucumber
  6. 1/2 cup, finely-chopped celery
  7. 1/4 cup finely-chopped dill pickles, or, capers
  8. 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  9. salt & freshly ground (fine ground) pepper, to taste
For onion-cream-cheese filling and frosting
  1. 1 package cream cheese (your choice of fat level)
  2. 1/2 cup cream or milk
  3. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  4. 2 tsp grated sweet onion
  5. 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  6. dash white pepper
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
Prepare bread
  1. Trim crusts from bread loaves. Flip the loaves over. It's good if the trimmed loaves have a slightly trapezoidal shape (i.e. wider base with sides sloping up to a slightly narrower top).
  2. Slice each loaf into 3/4-inch slices, horizontally. Take the bottom white bread piece and make this the base. Spread with softened butter. Set aside.
  3. Make filling: Mix together chicken, cucumber, celery pickle, mayo and salt and pepper. Set aside. In another small bowl, whip together cream cheese, milk, mayo, onion, Worchestershire sauce, pepper and salt. Set aside.
Assemble loaf
  1. Starting with the base piece you already spread with butter, spread this relatively thickly with the chicken spread. Top this with a slice of wheat bread. Spread with butter again. Spread this with the onion cream cheese mixture (not too thickly.) Top this with a slice of the white loaf. Butter. Spread with more of the chicken spread. Crown with a final slice of wheat bread. Cover the whole loaf in the remaining onion cream cheese. Decorate with your choice of veg garnish. Chill. Slice and serve.
  1. You will have extra trimmed bread and chicken spread. Make some mini-finger sandwiches with these extras....and have fun with the garnishes!
Lost Recipes Found


  • Reply Ben Karlin February 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I remember these on buffet tables alongside “Jell-O Salads” of shredded cabbage, carrots, and other vegetable debris floating in quivering rings of Jell-O. In those days kitchens had three molds hanging on the wall: the ring, the dome, and the fish. They were aluminum but the exteriors were copper-colored. Can’t wait to surprise my kids with one of these. I don’t think they have ever been exposed to chicken salad with ground chicken instead of chunks or to ham salad either! Their textures were the same but the ham salad was pink instead of taupe like the chicken. I think my mother used to pick them up at Goldblatt’s on State Street in their deli in the basement or else it was Stop’n’Shop in the Loop.

    We lived west so often bought party foods at Wieboldt’s in River Forest, or Hillman’s. What a golden age for playing with food that time was. Thanks for the memories.

    • Reply Monica Rogers February 9, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      HA! Yup. Ben, I’ll have to revisit my “Better Left Lost” column for you…

    • Reply Emmeline July 30, 2017 at 12:02 am

      Love this, I am from the Chicago area. It almost made me cry with frond memories!

      Thank You

    • Reply BevF May 1, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      I remember! River Forest Wieboldt’s! Hillmn’s, Stop & Shop, Goldblatt’s! … the loop of course … and loaves with chicken and ham and egg salad layers! OMG! and yes, west!. . . just east? of Mannheim Rd.


      • Reply Monica Rogers May 2, 2019 at 8:15 pm

        So glad this brings happy memories! I am just about to post an entire Mother’s Day Tea Sandwiches recipe post with scads of good fillings! Stay tuned!

  • Reply Linda Moran August 4, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    My mom had a catering business for years and we made hundreds of these. We alternated chicken salad and ham salad. They were delicious.

    • Reply Monica Rogers August 26, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Linda! I love it 🙂 Good memories.

  • Reply Haley October 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    This is so great! I’m doing a Retro Recipes series, with a variation on sandwich loaf: Ribbon sandwiches. Essentially the same thing, minus the frosting, from what I can tell.

    Also, I love the theme of your blog! Going to dig around a little bit and see what else I find 🙂

  • Reply Irene Ralston October 29, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I’m overjoyed to find your blog! We made these over 40 years ago for events at my sons school. They were always such a hit; I was surprised that every parent didn’t make them … but raising little ones probably answers that. Needless to say, that I plan to take it up again.
    I found your blog accidentally by searching for a layered sandwich loaf. A recipe that I’ve used for entertaining for many years was lost in moving and I’ve not been able to locate it since. Until I found it on your site. And happy I am!!!!! as I was contemplating an upcoming luncheon.
    I thank you for your blog, the many recipes, and for the many hours of work you devote to fulfilling our deepest wishes. Wish I had that (particular) recipe; Wish I could find the recipe like Mama used to make, etc.
    Thank you again for your work and dedication to this purpose. Feel the thanks and gratitude of thousands who have found your blog.

    • Reply Monica Rogers November 2, 2016 at 4:13 am

      Wow! Thanks. This is the new iteration of the site which has been a labor of love for a while now. I’m still posting some of the recipes found and tested from the “old” site and will bring new ones soon. Keep cooking with and for your family! It’s the best way to make deep and lasting memories. –Monica

  • Reply Sharon B. April 16, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    I’ve only ever had this once–at a ladies’ luncheon at my church in Park Ridge circa the Year of Our Lord 2000–and remember fondly how one of the ladies of a certain vintage (ahem) laughed when I inquired about this “new” dish I had never tasted before. Could it possibly be a Midwest thing? I grew up in the South, and had never seen it before. Or since, for that matter.

    Thank you for continuing your great writing for all to enjoy; I also remember enjoying your former blog. I want to say I found it through the LTH Forum. Does that sound right?

    • Reply Allie P. July 26, 2020 at 6:03 pm

      OMG, I grew up I Mobile, AL in the ’70’s and this was the go to, I am African American and this was on my Mom’s “Big Event” rotation, church programs, sorority meetings!! There was a bakery, Pollmans, that would make a special order of Pullman loaf bread, cut horizontal with any pastel color you wanted. Once my Dad had an employee getting married,no money and Dad showed up at our house with groceries and had us make a sandwich loaf and other goodies for the reception. I am getting excited, and must find an event, post Pandemic to Wow my millenial and Gen Z co-workers.

  • Reply Rick Anderson January 24, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    My mom made this all the time, but she added egg salad to a layer and pimento cheese for another layer, yum!

  • Reply Lynn Dunham January 25, 2019 at 4:31 am

    I remember this dish from my childhood in the 50’s in Barrington, IL For the one I make, I use three layers of fillings, chicken s,alad, egg salad, and ham salad. Sometimes I”ll use a layer of tomato and mayo instead of the ham salad.

  • Reply Lynn Tamasa February 28, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    I love this! Sooooo many fond memories! I live in a senior complex now, for our next “pot luck” . . . Guess what I’m bringing?? TYSM

  • Reply Diane Johnson May 29, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    My mother used to make this to and she used to make it with ham tuna and egg salad now you can just use crab salad and shrimp salad and just come up with your own little combination and I like the idea of the white bread and the wheat bread when I get myself together from healing from my operation I’m going to do one they bring back a lot of memory a friend of my brother always asks when is your mother going to make one of those party loaf sandwiches again because she made one for his family when a father passed away and they loved it and I do remember goldblatt’s Hillman and all the stores that you have mentioned and definitely on State Street and it did bring back a lot of memories I am definitely about anything that represent old school and I’m 62.

  • Reply Eleanor Collins May 4, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    This was always a favorite women’s birthday lunch, buying unsliced bread was easy in the 70’s& 80’s. I am looking for unsliced, not too soft, bread to make this treat. The bakeries I’ve called don’t have what I want….. loaf size rectangle I can slice horizontally… any suggestions ????

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