Anybody Remember "Stewart Sandwiches"?

When I was a young kid, my uncle owned a bar-he had a line of pre-made sandwiches that were supplied by a company named “Stewart”. These sandwiches were made to be heated up, in a special electric oven-I think it was like a toaster oven. The weird thing was, these sandwiches were packed in cellophane wrappers-i never figured out how the wrappers didn’t burn.
My uncle recalls that they were not gourmet fare, but people seemed to like them.
I googled and came up with nothing-I’m sure the company is long gone. anyway, they had hamburgers-so somebody had thought of fast food, a long time ago.

They seem to have appeared in the late 1950’s. They were, at that time, the STEWART IN-FRA-RED Co. They registered their trademark, a map of the US with “Coast to Coast/Stewart/Sandwiches” superimposed.


They seem to have vanished about the late 1980’s. And, yes, they supplied mainly to taverns, etc., although they brought out a lince of frozen sandwiches in groceries years earlier.

The pro shop at the country club my parents belonged to in North Carolina carried these. Some of them weren’t half-bad

This sounds like the sandwiches they used to have at a snack bar near me, circa 1974, though I can’t say if that was the brand.

1974 in my home town…McDonald’s? What’s that? Microwave? Never heard of it. The ham and swiss were mighty tasty and you’re right: I can’t figure out why the wrapper wasn’t melted or burned…but when it came out of that little toaster oven it sure was brittle. And HOT!

Thanks for the replies; on the off chance, I checked Ebay-there are two of the old Stewart ovens for sale. As I said, you put the (cellophane-wrapeed) sandwich in, and turned on the timer-and the sandwich got heated up-but why the cellophane didn’t burn was a mystery. Imagine if they had these things today-the cellophane probably outgassed a ton of chemicals into the sandwich-probably not too good for you!

I carried these and their super infrared-element heater-upper in my game room around 1975.

An yep, the sandwiches were actually decent. Not great, but pretty good…better than a lot of the microwaveable stuff you can find in the convenience stores today. They had one that was some kind of steak and ersatz steak with finely diced onions on it that I actually liked a lot.

Thanks for the blast from the past.

STEWART IN-FRA-RED is now Deli Express!
Oh what I would do to see a picture of a Chuckwagon sandwich
or one of those horrible grilled cheese or hot dogs I consumed
so many of!

I also encountered these sandwiches in a pro shop at a public golf course circa 1975-1980. Seems like they had a fairly generic burger, but the roast beef was decent, and I want to say there was a ham & cheese that was pretty good.

I had one of those sandwiches in a tiny little airport my dad and I landed at in 1973 or so, in northern Wisconsin. A hot dog. I didn’t care for it, but it was nice and warm so I took it on the plane with me. It kept my hands cosy for a while, but finally it got rather cold and congealed, so I pitched it out of the cockpit over a cranberry bog.

Just had to share that.

The picture of the sandwich factory on that history page reminds me a bit too much of the scene in Freddy Got Fingered.

Bill McNeil loved 'em.

I used to like them in the 60’s.

Perhaps their cellophane was fairly transparent to thermal infrared. Plastics often are.

My BIL drove a Stewart Sandwich route. Supplied convenience stores, vending machines, and such.

My sister worked at the “kitchen” making them. Just a bunch of long tables with a couple of dozen women slapping sammiches together, and boxing them up for delivery.

Sometime between 1981 and 85 or so…

I worked at Stewart sandwiches in about 1975. The food was decent and I freely ate it during breaks. But I have never gotten over the sound of the frozen patties falling from the freezer unit into the cart that I rolled around. Or the smell - that smell that comes out of all freezers only larger and room-filling.

Back in the early eighties when I was working second shift at the cheese factory, I used to get up at about 11:00 AM, take a shower, smoke a bowl, stop at the gas station for a Stewarts sub and head for work.

Miss those days sometimes.

My father moved to Grand Rapids, MI in 1955 to help start a Stewart Infra Red Sandwich. A family friend was starting a franchise there. Later it was sold to Stewart Sandwiches of Norfolk, VA. It was owned by Ted Broeker. The top selling sandwich was called a Chuckwagon. Each franchise had their own commissary for making sandwiches but when Stewart Sandwiches purchased them the sandwiches were mass produced in Norfolk & a semi came about every other week to fill the freezer.

Well I recall the private school I attended served these back in 73 up to 79. here in Maryland I loved them along with a cherry soda can still taste it today. My favorite was the HERO as the edges of the bun always seemed to get crinkled and hard. But the taste of the ham and cheese was great and still sticks in my mind as one of the best pre fast food meals I ever had. Later on our local boat dock had one of the infra red machines to make the sandwiches hoggies chuckwagons , hot dogs and everything else. I have a picture of the machine that I will try and upload. For those kids of the the 70s like myself do you also remember ice cream bubble gum with the clown on it. that came in several flavors…

The wedge sandwiches are in a machine at the “Y”.

It’s just a matter of using the right plastic for the wrapper and it can handle the heat.


The in fur red heating elements would be pretty hot. But the air in the oven would not. The system might even be designed to keep the air in the oven relatively cool.

Most of the heat would pass through the thin plastic, heating up the food underneath it. Since that food would have moisture in it, that would create steam. Which is good for several reasons. One, your food is getting steamed which is an effective way to heat something up without burning it. Its hard to get steam really really hot this way so the steam is also going to limit how hot the thin plastic thats in contact with it can get. The steam might actually be keeping the plastic cooler than it would be without the steam. Also, staleish bread can be reborn to some extent when steamed and eaten warm.

And somebody better get a lawyer now that I know how my uncle was killed in that cranberry bog years ago.