Memphis Sandwich Clique Hosts Online Sandwich Challenges 

The popular Facebook group adapts during quarantine.

Memphis Sandwich Clique is a phenomenon. The Facebook group began last July with Ryan Joseph Hopgood and Reuben Skahill asking people to post their favorite sandwiches.

Membership grew faster than someone could devour a finger sandwich.

"We started out with 100," Hopgood says. Membership now is at 12,900.

click to enlarge The clique: Ryan Joseph Hopgood (left) and Reuben Skahill - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • The clique: Ryan Joseph Hopgood (left) and Reuben Skahill

Because of COVID-19, Memphis Sandwich Clique is adapting. They now focus on "self-quarantine" and "flattening the curve," Hopgood says. "We're taking a focus on homemade sandwiches and using what you've got in the kitchen, being as creative as possible."

Memphis Sandwich Clique now streams sandwich challenges, which feature Skahill as host.

It's a "challenge video series," says Skahill, who wants people to "support local businesses but still stay safe and stay in the house. We decided to still let people post their to-go order from spots that are open, but, as far as the content we're creating, [we] focus more on a homemade sandwich challenge, where you can send a live [video] or finished product."

The challenge streams to several places. "I go live on my personal Facebook and then share it to the group and all these other groups. And people start watch parties," Skahill says.

The posts are "like TV episodes," he adds. "At any point in time during the day people are going live."

As for the first challenge, Skahill says, "We're doing hashtags. This one is called #cliquebreakfastwars. That's the breakfast sandwich one we're doing.

"You pick three people to do the challenge. I nominated my mom who is in North Carolina, and I nominated someone in Boston. It's not just limited to Memphis anymore. It's good to get inspiration from across the nation."

The three people Skahill nominated challenged three more people. "It goes on as long as the chain goes on."

He plans to introduce a new sandwich challenge weekly. "I'll make a new hashtag this week. So we'll have people nominating people for the breakfast challenge while another one is going. It's like a round. It's very fun."

The series initially began with Hopgood making a breakfast sandwich at home. "Ryan is by no means a professional chef," Skahill says. "So, I believe he sparked the movement."

Describing his "breakfast bagel," Hopgood says, "I didn't really know what to use, so I just threw a bunch of stuff together ... eggs, creamed cheese, bacon, salami, pepper jelly, and cheddar cheese.

"People were making fun of my eggs. I looked on Google how to cook scrambled eggs, and I watched Gordon Ramsay's way, but I didn't have the cream, so I used mayo."

His breakfast bagel "kind of kicked off the challenge."

Memphis Sandwich Clique administrator Stephen Hoffman tore Hopgood's sandwich apart in his comments. "He basically one-upped me," Hopgood says. "He went live the next day and made a breakfast sandwich. That's how the whole thing started. It was really just the moderators challenging each other — just us checking each other — and it grew to adding more people to the challenge."

"My submission, I think, is the best," Skahill says. "It's called The Tiny Breakfast Bomb, where I used an everything bagel and I put Tiny Bomb beer in my eggs and in the cooked turkey sausage. And I used Central BBQ rub on my eggs. Then avocado, cucumber, and tomato."

Hopgood will be a semi-regular in the challenges. He doesn't have a lot of groceries on hand at home, but he also spends time at his family's home. "I'm going to pop up now and then," he says. "My mom is still getting groceries.

"The main thing is we want people to keep the competitive edge going in their home kitchen, their cooking skills sharp even though they're in quarantine. A lot of people in the groups are chefs around town, so you'll see some great creations."

Skahill believes the series will get bigger and bigger: "Everyone's getting real creative now that they're bored out of their minds."

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