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How ‘Let Them Eat Sarnies’ Encouraged Mourners to Donate Marmalade Sandwiches


The creative duo behind the virtual fundraiser that encouraged hundreds of mourners to donate their marmalade sandwiches instead of leaving them as tributes to the Queen spoke to LBB’s Zoe Antonov about their project and why it came at a crucial time for the most vulnerable

How ‘Let Them Eat Sarnies’ Encouraged Mourners to Donate Marmalade Sandwiches

Earlier this year, when Queen Elizabeth and Paddington bear appeared together in a sketch where they discussed their shared love for marmalade sandwiches, nobody expected the topic to have a return in the form of a newly established charity. During the national period of mourning following the death of the Queen, thousands of people left their flower tributes in her memory and queued up to pay their final respects. One more peculiar way in which mourners chose to do that was by leaving marmalade sandwiches, a nod to the Queen’s appearance alongside one of the nation’s favourite fictional characters. Although well intended, however, the sarnie tributes were halted by a Royal Parks statement, in which they pleaded to the public to stick to flowers, as the sandwiches could pose a harm to the wildlife in the parks.

However, to freelance creatives and friends Gabriella Holmes and Saphire Favell, the seemingly innocent marm tribute had more dimension. While thousands were being encouraged to queue up to see the Queen for the last time and given blankets and shelter, millions of rough sleepers don’t get the same treatment all year round. Similarly, the paradox of hundreds of marm sandwiches being left, while food banks were closing on the day of the funeral, didn’t sit right with the duo. Their original idea of buying a bunch of yellow label food from the reduced section of supermarkets and doing their best to give it around to those who need it most, soon enough became a bit of a different tribute to the Queen. Instead of having people leave their sarnies in the park, Gab and Saph encouraged mourners to pay the equal amount of money to charity through their fundraiser ‘Let Them Eat Sarnies’. From one virtual sarnie costing £3 up to one thousand sarnies for the cost of £3000 pounds, the fundraiser has managed to almost reach £10,000 days after the funeral. 

Gab and Saph spoke to LBB’s Zoe Antonov about what the fundraiser means for them and the public’s reaction to the issue. 

LBB> Can each of you tell me a bit about your background and how you're involved in the creative industry?

Gab and Saph> We’ve both been making ads for several years now, but have recently joined forces as a freelance team. Combining our penchant for nun portraiture, cowboy hats and word spewing to make work that ain’t beige. (Marm sandwiches not included.)

LBB> How was the concept for "Let Them Eat Sarnies!" born and why?     

Gab and Saph> ‘Let Them Eat Sarnies’ came from a conversation we had about ‘paying respects forward’. The idea that people could redirect their tributes to the Queen to some of the 700,000+ people in the UK who rely on food banks.

We saw a tweet saying that the reduced section of M&S was ‘gonna pop off’ on Sunday night, with the bank holiday coming up. So our original plan was to head to the supermarket, fill a trolley with yellow label items and set up outside one of the food banks closed for the funeral. But we soon figured there was only so far we could get with a couple out of date lasagnes, so that was ditched in favour of going digi.

LBB> What were the initial steps you took once the idea was conceived, to get the project moving along?

Gab and Saph> Our initial iteration of the site was actually more of a ‘virtual wake’, where people could buy a Bucking-Ham sandwich for a fiver or Her Majesty’s Moet for £100, and the money go to food banks. Pretty naff and convoluted, looking back.

In the end we tried to keep it simple. Marmalade sandwiches were the issue, so marmalade sandwiches were what we should sell. From then on it was just a case of buying the domain and getting on with it. We turned the site around in a day, ran it past a couple of CD’s whose opinions we trust - and then put out into the world! 

LBB> Do you think the creative industries did enough to draw attention to the issue at the heart of the project - the fact that food banks were closing when they were needed by so many people. What do you believe the response should've been?

Gab and Saph> Often brands try to chime in on social issues without putting their money where their marmalade is. Which let’s be honest - is just tokenism. 

Really though, the bank holiday closures are just one distressing part of a much bigger problem - the 81% increase in need for food banks over the past 5 years. And if policies aren’t gonna sort it, then the rest of us will get creative.

LBB> Did you collaborate with the Food Bank Aid for the project or did you just go ahead with it and donate all profit? If there was a collaboration, how did that take place and what was it like working with them?

Gab and Saph> The project wasn’t a collaboration with the charity, just a fundraiser. We thought that to have the most chance of gaining sarnie traction, the site worked best as a reactive piece. Something that we could whip up quickly between us, and get on people’s timelines.

LBB> It was quite wild to see people leaving food out ahead of the probably scarcest winter in a while for lower (and not only) income households, what were your personal thoughts on what was happening those days?

Gab and Saph> We did think that sandwiches being left in parks was bonkers, even if it was well-intentioned. The Royal Parks statement said it was a wildlife issue, but to us it was also a glaring disregard for people who are going hungry.

Sadly it’s a theme that kept cropping up in the lead up to the funeral. Like queuers being provided with blankets or allowed to sleep overnight on trains, when society’s most vulnerable don’t get that kind of treatment. 

So we were pretty angry when we made the site. But wanted to channel our keyboard warrior energy into something that felt positive. Cue the bright orange, sparkly sandwich GIF aesthetic!!

LBB> What was the turnaround like - did people pick up on the fundraiser quite quickly, how much money was donated at the end, and will the project continue now after the mourning period has ended?

Gab and Saph> We’ve just hit over 3,000 virtual sarnies! So £9.5K in donations, which we’re blown away by. We’re keeping the fundraiser open for one more week while we strive for that chunky £10K.

LBB> What was the reaction of the public? Did you see any negative comments or was the response overwhelmingly positive? 

Gab and Saph> One person did tell us that £3 for a marmalade sandwich was a rip off. But to them we say: a) Charity. And b) Inflation, baby. 

In all seriousness, people have been so generous and receptive to the idea. We’re incredibly grateful, so thank you.

LBB> Any final thoughts? 

Gab and Saph> Yep. Support your local food bank.

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LBB Editorial, Fri, 23 Sep 2022 15:29:14 GMT