The Quick Seven: Seven Sandwich Stories
Next time you're getting ready to order a fabulously unhealthy lunch at your favorite diner, take a second to look over the menu. There are stories behind a lot of those classic dishes - here are just a few of them.
1. Monte Cristo. Its name remains somewhat of a mystery, but most sources seem to think it was named after Alexander Dumas' novel The Count of Monte Cristo and its resulting movies. Before it received its literary nickname, this fried sandwich made with ham and gruyere cheese was simply called a French sandwich, so you can kind of see how the jump was made from "French" to "famous French novel." Right? Right.
2. Reuben. The Reuben is one of my favorite sandwiches. I love sauerkraut on almost anything. There are at least three stories as to how the Reuben got its name, but I'll give you the earliest version, which takes place in 1914. Supposedly, one of Broadway's leading ladies came into Reuben's Restaurant and Delicatessen after a late performance and said, "Reuben, make me a sandwich." He was in a jovial mood and started slapping a sandwich together with random ingredients, building it until it was a good foot tall. And the actress ate the whole thing. She brought friends back, the sandwich was a hit, and the rest is history. Unless you're one of at least two other guys who claim you invented the Reuben… then, I suppose, it's all fiction.
3. The Luther Burger is named after singer Luther Vandross, though we don't actually have any proof that he even liked them. Jared Fogle isn't going to be endorsing this baby anytime soon - Luther's namesake sandwich is a greasy burger with various toppings sandwiched between doughnuts instead of bread.
4. Po'Boy, like the Reuben, has several possibilities as to the origins of its name. I'm going with the The New York Times' version, which says the name originated when streetcar employees in New Orleans went on strike in 1929. Many sandwich shop owners sympathized with the striking workers and were determined to feed them well. Whenever the restauranteurs saw a striker headed in for lunch, they'd say, "Here comes another poor boy."
5. Fool's Gold. You no doubt know the Fool's Gold as the concoction Elvis famously flew across the country for. Bread, peanut butter, jelly, bacon - where does the gold come in? Well, it's the "fool's" part that must be noted - the sandwich is so-called because you'd be a fool to pay the $49.95 price it fetched back in the 1970s. Photo from the amazing Insanewiches.
6. Dagwood. These huge, impossibly-stacked sandwiches are, of course, known after the bumbling husband in the Blondie comic strip. The skinny sketch apparently has a hollow leg, because he eats tirelessly, stacking whatever he can find in the fridge onto a couple of slices of bread. The version sold at the Dagwood Sandwich Shoppe chain includes three slices of bread, salami, pepperoni, cappicola, mortadella, ham, cotto salami, cheddar cheese, Provolone, red onion, lettuce, tomato, bell peppers, mayo, mustard, and Italian olive oil.
7. A Hot Brown sandwich is not, as has been speculated, named after how hot and brown it is. The open-faced sandwich with turkey, bacon, tomato and cheese is actually named after the Hotel it originated at: the Brown Hotel of Louisville, Kentucky. The hotel itself was named after its owner, J. Graham Brown.