Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Reintroducing the Reuben

A forgotten classic steps into the haute-sandwich spotlight.

ShareThis

T here are two main theories regarding the invention of the Reuben sandwich, both of which revolve around men named Reuben. (1) New York City, 1914: Arnold Reuben, the owner of Reuben’s Restaurant, slaps together some Virginia ham, roast turkey, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing on rye and calls it a Reuben’s Special. (2) Omaha, Nebraska, 1922: A poker-playing grocer named Reuben Kulakofsky, who must have fashioned himself along the lines of a modern-day Earl of Sandwich, takes a break during a card game and fixes himself a similar sandwich but subs corned beef for the ham and turkey and sauerkraut for the coleslaw. The former, admittedly, isn’t what we now consider a classic Reuben, which is why most sandwich aficionados give the edge to Omaha. On the other hand, we’re New Yorkers, and we didn’t get where we are by letting some Nebraskans steal our thunder. (If only this poker player could have named his creation a Kulakofsky instead of a Reuben, we might not be in this mess today.) What’s not up for debate, though, is that the Reuben, whoever invented it, is a world-class sandwich. Salty, tangy, fatty, and a little sweet, it’s got everything you could ask for—especially when properly buttered, griddled, and served hot. What’s curious, in this golden age of sandwich-making, is that, unlike the bánh mì, the BLT, and the grilled cheese, to name only a few, the Reuben has gone uncelebrated and been impervious to gourmet upgrades. That is, until now. In the slideshow above, a few examples of the modern Reuben, with the requisite chefly liberties taken.


Related:

Advertising
Current Issue
Subscribe to New York
Subscribe

Give a Gift

Advertising