We’re Obsessed With This Vintage Cream Cheese and Olive Sandwich That’s Gone Viral

Updated: Jun. 13, 2023

So simple and delicious, this three-ingredient cream cheese and olive sandwich is the latest old-fashioned sandwich to get popular.

A couple of the most viral recipes this spring have been simple, vintage sandwiches that call for white bread and cream cheese. The first old-fashioned lunch to catch fire was the cucumber sandwich, watched and liked by millions on TikTok. “Do you really need a recipe for a cucumber sandwich?” asked TikTok creator Amy Flanigan in her video (with 1.3 million views). “Yes. Yes, you do.” Now, closely following the popularity of the cucumber sandwich, allow us to introduce its close cousin: the cream cheese and olive sandwich.

The cream cheese and olive sandwich, surprisingly, does not owe its fame to TikTok. The one who kicked off this trend is food writer Elazar Sontag, who wrote about it in Bon Appetit, based on a sandwich he ate at S&P, the revival of the classic New York lunch counter. “What I didn’t expect was for so much nostalgia,” wrote Sontag. When he posted his version on Instagram, he says that “Friends and strangers streamed into my comments and DMs to share stories of their parents and grandparents making some approximation of this dish when they were little.”

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A post shared by Elazar Sontag (@e_zar)

What Is a Cream Cheese and Olive Sandwich and How Do You Make It?

Two Sandwiches Cream Cheese Olive Sandwich Jason Wilson TohJason Wilson/TasteofHome.com

It’s just as the name says. There are three ingredients: white bread, cream cheese and pitted olives. This is not an olive sandwich spread, which is quite different.

To make it, take two slices of white bread and slather them generously with cream cheese. Then, take a handful of olives and chop them into pebble-sized pieces. Top the cream cheesed bread with the chopped olives and close the sandwich. Cut in half to serve.

“Sometimes it pays to just be simple,” said TikTok creator Jim Behymer (@sandwichidiot) in his video (with more than 325,000 views!) that sings the praises of this three-ingredient sandwich. Behymer noted the old-fashioned nature of the sandwich, as well: “Nostalgia, for many people, may be a secret and critical fourth ingredient to this sandwich.”

@sandwichidiot Sometimes it pays to just be simple. Tagging Barry ’cause I mention him in the video. Hiya Barry! #greenolives #castelvetrano #creamcheese #sandwich #simple ♬ Just Be Simple – Songs: Ohia

We Tried It—and You Should, Too

Close Cream Cheese Olive Sandwich Jason Wilson TohJason Wilson/TasteofHome.com

Personally, I have no nostalgic connection to this sandwich—my parents or grandparents never ate this. But it still feels old-school in the coolest way possible. I do happen to love olives, in all forms, which I think is important. They can be a divisive food item, even though olives have health benefits. Half of our office expressed disgust at the idea of olives. But if you like olives, you will love this sandwich.

Though it’s simple, there are definitely ways to experiment with and personalize the cream cheese and olive sandwich. For instance, the original recipe calls for green olives (Castelvetro works well), but you can also try them with others. Kalamata olives, for instance, brought a little more intense brininess. There is also the question of whether to cut the crusts off or not. I found that both crust on and crust off had their merits.

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