“Is there no one left in Britain who can make a sandwich?”, asked the Daily Mail after revealing that a food producer was recruiting staff from Hungary rather than closer to home. Cue politicians furiously taking sides, rival newspapers joining the fray and twitter convulsing. My take on the matter was different. I simply noted with quiet satisfaction that the humble sandwich was back where it belonged, as a touchstone for the nation.

Economists have long been aware that sandwiches can provide serious food for thought. Look no further than the Club Sandwich Index, which offers travellers a simple price comparison through the medium of sandwich. For the record, Geneva is generally priciest, with Mexico City bumping along the bottom.

Sandwiches are also a good indicator of the economic cycle. When M&S cleared their racks of gourmet sandwiches during the financial crisis and stocked up with more basic fare – most notably the jam sarnie, retailing at a at a credit crunch-friendly 75p – we knew the country was in deep trouble. But as the recession turned to recovery, austerity sandwiches soon passed their sell-by date, and gourmet has been back on the menu ever since

I have to declare a personal interest here. I used to write about sandwiches. Most of M&S’s are made in a factory in Northampton, whose owner was a Lang client. My task was to visit their various food sites and interview managers for their annual report. Donning a blue plastic food safety hairnet I even got to enter the place where the magic happens – a vast cathedral-like space that represents the Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory of the sandwich world. Laser-like high pressure water jets cut bread into perfect triangles, fine jets sprayed butter onto each slice and huge chrome machines grilled acres of crispy bacon for BLTs. But among the slightly Heath Robinson machines there were also hundreds of people. Creating the perfect sandwich is an art as well as a science.

And it was this very factory, now owned by the world’s largest sandwich manufacturer Greencore, that was at the centre of the Daily Mail story. Proving once again that there is a lot more in a sandwich than you might think. So let’s hope that gluten intolerant millennials and health conscious Gen Xs don’t mean that its days are numbered.