How This Dungeons & Dragons TikToker Became a Sandwich Star
Jake Pauwels pairs D&D dice with sandwich ingredients for a show that is chaotic fun.
Jake Pauwels started his TikTok account in March to post Dungeons & Dragons content, after agreeing to take over as Dungeon Master among his group of friends. The campaign would take place in a fictional world of his creation, Aardia, which is a nod to his username, @AdventuresinAardia. But he never expected to be a host of his own food show.
Keeping with the Dungeons & Dragons theme, he decided to start a sandwich-making show, which he titled Roll for Sandwich, in which he would use D&D dice to help him create a sandwich—what bread to use, sauces to include, proteins, and “wild magic.”
“I thought it would be something fun to put on my D&D-focused account that would make some people smile,” Pauwels says. “I mostly figured it would stay on D&D TikTok.”
It did not. Pauwels has surpassed 40 episodes of his sandwich-making party, and with that, has also amassed a following of nearly 800,000 that inches closer to a million with each passing day.
“It’s funny because I have a lot of experience with social media due to all the different things that I’ve done in my life—touring as a musician, being an author,” Pauwels explains. “But this is not something that I expected to have a life of its own. Thankfully as it gained steam, I knew what to do to help it grow.”
There are so many factors that contribute to the joy of Pauwels’ show. For starters, leaving it to chance to decide his lunch for the day, much in the way dice decide characters’ fates in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, keeps viewers glued to the screens. When a sandwich comes together in a way that makes sense, you cheer. When marshmallow fluff gets added to sauerkraut, you groan—yet stay to witness Pauwels’s reaction as he dives in, always providing honest feedback in a voiceover about the concoction the dice have chosen for him.
Pauwels makes a point to eat every bite of the sandwich he’s made, no matter how disconcerting the combinations. Bananas with pastrami and dill? Check. Chocolate chip waffles with salami and HP sauce? It’s been done.
“At the beginning of this series, I committed that whatever creation I make, I’m gonna eat the whole sandwich,” Pauwels began. “If there’s no consequences for the rolls that I’m doing, then what’s the point? Like if I can roll up a terrible sandwich and then just decide not to eat it, there’s no stakes.” The allure that made Pauwels interested in D&D in the first place are the stakes. It’s what makes the game, both D&D and Roll for Sandwich, fun and exciting.
“Also, there’s a ton of food waste on TikTok of people just making horrendous things, just to get clicks and views, and then all of that’s going in the garbage. And that’s terrible,” Paulwels adds. “I know what it’s like to be on a budget, to not be able to afford food sometimes. Food has value.”
“At the beginning of this series, I committed that whatever creation I make, I’m gonna eat the whole sandwich.”
In addition to food waste, Pauwels also uses his TikTok show as a platform to celebrate food and the many ingredients, across different cultures, that he’s gotten to try through Roll for Sandwich. “I’ve always been open-minded when it comes to different food combinations,” Pauwels explains. He attributes this quality to his grandmother, who stocked her fridge with funky cheeses from around the world and encouraged Pauwels to try pickled herring, specialty olives, liverwurst, or whatever else she had on hand. That, and growing up in Metro Detroit, where he dined in Middle Eastern restaurants run by the large Arabic population in Michigan, made him curious about food.
“We live in a very diverse world and everybody has to eat—it’s something we all have in common,” Pauwels says. “So being able to keep an open mind and look into foods from other cultures, and see why people eat what they eat—that’s always interested me.”
Since opening up a P.O. box, fans of Pauwels’ show have clamored to send him ingredients from their own communities in hopes he’ll add it to the Roll for Sandwich rotation. There’s been Filipino banana ketchup, marmite and vegemite, ketchup-flavored chips, kimchi mayo, and more. Pauwels has had to buy a separate cabinet for his ingredients, as well as freezer chest, but is happy to share the new combinations with viewers and the community he has developed.
As Pauwels nears his 50th episode, what he refers to as the “season one finale,” he plans to take a month-long sabbatical where he can focus on his fiction writing and being a dad to his two-year-old daughter (who he is also teaching to love interesting, new ingredients).
But that doesn’t mean Roll for Sandwich is ending. Pauwels is planning special spin-off episodes, and wants to encourage his viewers to try some of the flavorful combinations he’s already made (like a peanut butter, avocado, banana peppers, lettuce, and chevre sandwich smothered in kimchi mayo that he made in episode 42, which garnered a 10/10 ranking).
“Even apples instead of tomatoes or lettuce on a turkey sandwich ends up being really good,” he says. “And it’s amazing how well cinnamon-raisin bread goes with savory.”
Beyond the sandwiches, Pauwels views himself as an unofficial ambassador to D&D, and wants to use his platform to encourage people to participate in the fantasy game.
“It’s not just about the sandwiches. There’s now a Discord, a subreddit,” Pauwels says. “It’s cool that I’ve been able to create this place where people can come together.”