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"

"hero" "hoagie" "grinder" "submarine"...I still can't believe

this book got published!