While reading about sandwiches in my free time (we all do that, right?) I came across some interesting information. Apparently, the origin of the Reuben sandwich was under hot debate for a bit, and still may be.
I personally love food, even more, when it’s got a nice history behind it. The rhetoric I’ve heard for years describes the tasty sandwich as a Jewish creation from the streets of New York. Apparently, there exists another claim to the throne.
In This Corner…
This story starts with Arnold Reuben; founder and owner of Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in The Big Apple. In 1914 one of Charlie Chaplain’s leading ladies strolled into his restaurant asking for a large, custom sandwich. Annette Seelos was so hungry she could “eat a brick.” He made her ham, turkey, swiss, coleslaw, and lots of Reuben’s special Russian dressing on rye.
Elements of a Reuben, sure, but not the real deal. I could see this as a progenitor, and his shop was named “Reuben’s” after all. Recently, another side came out of Omaha, Nebraska.
Elizabeth Weil wrote in the New York Times a few years ago telling the story of her grandfather Charles Schimmel. A talented cook for one of his father’s hotels, the clientele trusted him to make up delicious food on the spot pretty often. On one particular poker night in the Blackstone Hotel, Reuben Kulakofsky called upon Schimmel to make snacks for the table. Schimmel delivered corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and rye to everyone’s delight.
Now, this one sounds like a lot more of a Reuben Sandwich. The other pretty great piece of evidence for the Omaha claim is a copy of the menu from the Plush Horse, a restaurant in the Blackstone. It’s got the sandwich itself on there, whereas there aren’t any menus to back up the New York Claim
Until things get a little bit more official than word of mouth, and we can dig up some specific menus from certain years, it looks like the Omaha claim holds a bit more weight. Who knew the Reuben came from Nebraska? Fortunately, you don’t need a plane ticket to enjoy a quality sandwich, just stop by your Local Deli today!