Christmas is a time for many things: stacks of cheese, rainbow-wrapper chocolate, getting pissed then a little drunk on top of that.
Let’s face it, Christmas isn’t “all about family”, as some well-meaning but ultimately misinformed folk will tell you. It’s about hard indulgence.
For a brief period, society’s norms are altered in a way that makes it perfectly acceptable to eat and drink until the digestion process renders us unconscious. Of course, all this excess will most likely lead to a pretty weighty hangover the next morning; one that’s going to require more than a glass of water and two ibuprofens to fix.
Enter: the Christmas sandwich. On Boxing Day, this is usually a DIY affair. But in the weeks leading-up to Christmas, the high street blesses us with a plethora of bread-based goods to take the edge off. We asked science to tell us which will do it best.
Waitrose Christmas Salt Beet & Emmental Sandwich (2.5/5)
Waitrose, the quintessential bastion of Britain’s middle class, is serving a vegetarian “salt beet and Emmental sandwich” this Christmas. And it’s a Christmas miracle! I’m joking, it has received middling reviews (2.5 out of 5) on the company’s own website.
Much of the frustration seems to be caused by the fact that people misread the packaging and were horrified when they got it home to find that it did not actually contain salt beef. “There was NO salted beef, confusing labelling” said one reviewer, while another branded the product “deliberately misleading”.
Furious carnivores aside, the salt beet sarnie does contain tangy gherkins. Pickles, gherkins and their juice are constantly touted as a hangover cure. The salt and vinegar contained in them can cause your body to store water and restore electrolytes, according to nutritionist Shona Wilkinson: “The vinegar could also stimulate the liver to help detoxify and eliminate the alcohol,” she tol. “And when pickles ferment, they also produce a certain type of soothing bacteria to help with an irritated stomach.”
The jury is still out on this one, however, as two studies have found no difference between drinking pickle juice and water when it comes to treating dehydration. Dammit.
Costa Brie & Cranberry Toastie (3/5)
At Costa, we have the vegetarian brie and cranberry toastie. And if we’re looking at this from a hangover prevention perspective, anything packed with cranberry might not be a good shout.
Cranberry juice has been known to boost blood sugar levels and high blood sugar levels can contribute to dehydration. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, dehydration “contributes to hangover symptoms such as thirst, fatigue, and a headache”.
It’s not all black and white, however, because cranberries do contain a bunch of electrolytes (including potassium, magnesium and calcium). Replacing these electrolytes is thought to be essential when it comes to getting over a hangover. Costa might not be a bad bet to ease yourself the day after.
Starbucks Pigs Under Blanket Roll (3/5)
Starbucks has been advertising pigs under blankets. Would it have been that much effort to put the pigs inside the blanket??
With that said, the roll is filled with pork sausage, sage and onion mayo, and cheddar. The most important ingredient, though? Smoked bacon, which according to scientists, means you’ll also be stocking up on amino acids – allowing your liver to break down alcohol more efficiently.
Think of this as sending a little “sorry, I fucked up, I hope we’re still friends” note to your hardworking organ.
Pret's Christmas Lunch (4/5)
Ah, Pret – the Greggs of the south. The Pret sandwich boasts a strong range of ingredients including “thick slices” of British turkey, herby pork stuffing and some rogue baby spinach.
“Thick slices” is subjective, though. They’re not the super-thin slices of turkey you get in a packet, that are about the width of a king-size rizla, sure. But they’re certainly not as thick as when you wildly hack bits of the bird at home.
Having said that, eating a lot of turkey, like any high-protein meat, is a good shout when you’re treating a hangover – it’s rammed with amino acids, meaning it’s helping your liver to flush out the toxins you pumped into it the night before.
Greggs Festive Bake (5/5)
When a man is tired of Greggs, he is tired of life. As a northerner, I feel obliged to include this national treasure. If the people of Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle had any say in how this country was run, Greggs would probably be nationalised and run as a public service (not a bad shout, actually).
If, like me, you wake up gasping for carbs after a heavy one, you might want to get stuck into their Festive Bake. Not strictly a sandwich per se, but definitely one of the best things about Christmas (move aside films, family and snow).
I couldn’t find (I did try) anything in pastry that helps with a hangover specifically. But what the delightful pastry casing lacks nutritiously it makes up emotionally, right? Inhaling pastry products on a hangover is like being wrapped up in a blanket with someone stroking your head, whispering “no, no, you didn’t make a fool of yourself last night”. Plus it’s got chicken (high in protein and amino acids) and cranberry sauce (which contains electrolytes).
We rang the Greggs press office and asked them for a statement after being crowned king of the Christmas hangover food. A spokesperson said: “Erm, can you put this in a quick email?”