NY Times on "Reuben" sandwich

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Dec 19 05:48:15 UTC 2004

>From the FYI column in the Sunday New York Times:

A Little History on Rye

Q. Did the Reuben sandwich come from the old Reuben's Restaurant?

A. Actually, no. Reuben's Restaurant, according to the new book "Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food," began as a deli on Park Avenue about 1906 under Arnold Reuben, a German immigrant and a born showman.

He moved several times, stopping once at the Ansonia Hotel. From its opening in 1935, an event attended by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, until its closing in 1966, Reuben's was at 6 East 58th Street, off Fifth Avenue. Mr. Reuben had a popular gimmick of naming his sandwiches after celebrities (the Dean Martin, for example, was turkey and Holland ham on rye).

But he did not invent the Reuben, though he served quite a few. What is often regarded as quintessential New York (corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss and Russian dressing on grilled buttered rye) is generally thought to have been invented in the 1920's in Omaha, of all places, by a wholesale grocer staying at the Blackstone Hotel there. The grocer, Reuben Kulakofsky, made up the sandwich for his buddies in a late-night poker game.

E-mail: fyi at nytimes.com

"He moved several times." You heard it here first. Those Times people really know their stuff. I betcha he moved to the left, and he moved to the right.

"Reuben's Restaurant...began as a deli on Park Avenue about 1906 under Arnold Reuben" How much space was under Arnold Reuben? Enough to house a deli? Was he really fat?

But back to the heart of the matter. Cited was Arthur Schwartz, who, of course, knows nothing at all about this topic. But no, he knows everything about New York City Food. He wrote the book. Oy.

The information was probably taken (without credit, of course) from Merriam-Webster's Jim Rader, whose work is on a few web sites (and was on ADS-L).

The Reuben was officially named when it won a sandwich contest in 1956. The entrant claimed it for Nebraska. However, Reuben's restaurant (NY) had served many sandwiches, some like the "Reuben." His restaurant was nationally famous. I found "Reuben sandwich" before the sandwich contest.

No one at FYI in the City Section has ever heard of my web site? Maybe I should get in the New York Times City Section to tell them?

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