On my way between two branches of the NYPL, I often pass a restaurant at
East 38th Street and Madison Avenue called Reuben's. The restaurant
advertises "From a sandwich to a national institution."
Was the Reuben sandwich made here?
No, this was NOT the original Reuben's. The original was started in
1943 at 58th Street off Fifth Avenue (near my home) and went out of business
in 1979. THIS Reuben's bought that name.
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION (Barron's Cooking Guide) has this on pages
REUBEN SANDWICH. Reportedly originally named for its creator, Arthur Reuben
(owner of New York's once-famous and now-defunct Reuben's delicatessen), this
sandwich is made with generous layers of corned beef, Swiss cheese and
sauerkraut on sourdough rye bread. Reuben is said to have created the
original version (which was reportedly made with ham) for Anne Seelos, the
leading lady in a Charlie Chaplin film being shot in 1914. Another version
of this famous sandwich's origin is that an Omaha wholesale grocer (Reuben
Kay) invented it during a poker game in 1955. It gained national prominence
when one of his poker partner's employees entered the recipe in a national
contest the following year...and won. The Reuben sandwich can be served
either cold or grilled.
OED has it from 1956.
American sandwich names deserves serious study. Fortunately,
LADYFINGERS & NUN'S TUMMIES just came out! Let's see, no "Reuben"...no
"hero"...no "hoagie"...no "grinder"...no "submarine"...I still can't believe
this book got published!