Skip to main content

Froehlig, William J., 1926-2018



  • Existence: 1926 - 2018


William J. Froehlig, known to Northwestern students of a certain generation as “The Sandwich Man," was born on April 26, 1926. He served in the US Navy during World War II for three years before beginning his undergraduate career at Northwestern University in 1946.

At that time, the university, unable to accommodate the rapid influx of students after the war, was housing undergraduates in Quonset huts on Deering Meadow. It was here that Froehlig, a freshman studying biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, began a lucrative business selling sandwiches to hungry Northwestern students. The following year, he got married, and in subsequent years had two children. Froehlig found that selling sandwiches was a great way to support his family and pay for school at the same time.

After graduating from Northwestern in 1950, he used the money from sandwich-selling to put himself through graduate school at Northwestern’s School of Education. However, after teaching at Kenilworth Junior High School for five years, Froehlig quit and began selling sandwiches at Northwestern seven nights a week, instead of the five nights he sold while teaching.

Every day, Froehlig and his wife assembled tuna, chicken salad, peanut butter & jelly and other varieties of sandwiches (including the most popular: ham and cheese); every night Froehlig dragged his cart to each fraternity and many of the dormitories, selling sandwiches, as well as snacks, milk, and ice cream, to the students. They listened for his signature whistle that alerted them to his presence.

In 1959, Froehlig met with opposition from the Northwestern Deans, who accused him of solicitation and told him he was only allowed to fill individual orders from then on. Luckily, the fraternities took out standing orders for Froehlig to fill every night, and so he was able to continue business as usual. Additionally, the administration repealed their new rule five years later. Froehlig continued to sell his sandwiches to fraternities and other north campus housing, accompanied in the later years by his dog Champ, until his retirement in 1988. His prices were always reasonable: they averaged 35 cents in 1964, and 35 cents for peanut butter and jelly and 75 cents for meat sandwiches in 1976. Although he was occasionally challenged by competing food delivery services during those years, The Sandwich Man was unfailingly the favorite among the students.

Froehlig and his wife retired to Tallahassee, Florida.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

William J. Froehlig Papers

Identifier: 31/6/120

These papers document the career of William Froehlig, known to a generation of Northwestern students as "The Sandwich Man," who paid for his college education by selling snacks to students, and continued the business until his retirement.

Dates: 1959 - 2013; Other: Majority of material found within 1959 - 1971