The name ‘Reuben’ means, “Behold, a son!”. But for the purpose of this article, we’ll be saying, “Behold, a sandwich!” Chances are you’ve heard of the reuben sandwich, perhaps you even love it! But, do you know the unique history of how it got its name?
Undoubtedly, history is full of surprises and we’ll be taking a closer look at the background of this classic menu option.
What is a Reuben Sandwich?
First off, let’s look at what makes a reuben sandwich — a sandwich.
Reuben sandwiches are known for their hearty-size. You’ll see them made on rye bread. There is some debate about which type of rye bread is best. Marble rye is probably the most common, but you will also see reuben sandwiches made using traditional Russian rye, seeded Jewish rye, or any other type of rye bread.
What’s Stacked in the Middle?
A large portion of thinly sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing. The combination of tart tastes and spices work well together, making the reuben a must-have sandwich at any delicatessen you visit.
A Look Back in Time
Although there is some debate surrounding its origin, the reuben sandwich is believed to have sprung into historical existence in 1914 by the chef and owner of Reuben’s Restaurant , a New York delicatessen.
According to the New York Times Food Encyclopedia , the story goes:
Late one evening a leading lady of actor Charlie Chaplin came into the restaurant and said, ‘Reuben, make me a sandwich, I’m so hungry I could eat a brick.’ He took a loaf of rye bread, cut two slices and stacked one piece with sliced Virginia ham, roast turkey, and imported Swiss cheese, topped off with coleslaw and lots of Reuben’s special Russian dressing. He served it to the young woman who said, ‘Gee, Reuben, this is the best sandwich I ever ate, you ought to call it an Annette Seelos Special.’ To which he replied, ‘Like hell I will, I’ll call it a Reuben’s Special.’
A Competing Narrative . . .
The competition for where Reuben sandwiches first came about are nearly endless. However, a competing narrative is that in the 1920’s, a man by the name of Reuben Kulakofsky from Omaha, Nebraska was working one night at his deli when members of his local poker group asked for some sandwiches.
He decided to try something new for his friends and put together the first reuben sandwich using swiss cheese, corned beef, sauerkraut, and his special deli sauce on rye. It was such a big hit with his poker group, he decided to include it on the menu of a nearby hotel and it grew in popularity ever since.
Despite how it originated, there’s no doubting its timeless popularity throughout the years. You’ll see it on almost every sandwich menu across the country. There’s something about getting the right flavors together that can be difficult to accomplish, but when done right, these types of culinary delights are sure to stick around throughout history.
Chompie’s is Serving New York Eats and Deli Favorites for the Whole Family!
Whether you’re in the mood for a pastrami sandwich or looking for a sweet treat, Chompie’s is your Jewish go-to in the Phoenix metro area! Since 1979, Chompie’s has been the restaurant of choice for Arizonians looking for an authentic menu that serves items like latkes, matzo ball soup, knishes, and so much more.
Additionally, we are known for our New York-style menu serving classic deli items like bagels, mile-high sandwiches, and colossal Reubens. We are proud of our long history of service and look forward to creating experiences you will not forget .