A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“What do zombies eat while on a hike?"/"Entrail Mix.” (11/11)
“What do they teach you in pre-K?"/"The first 10 letters.” (11/10)
“Condoms prevent minivans” (11/2)
“If driven carefully, please report stolen” (bumper sticker) (11/2)
“Squirrels—Nature’s little speed bumps” (11/2)
More new entries...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Entry from November 13, 2004
Reuben Sandwich (and Rachel Sandwich, Celebrity Sandwiches)
Arnold Reuben (1883-1970) began his restaurant in the 1910s and it became famous for its celebrity-named sandwiches, a tradition continued by the Stage Deli and Carnegie Deli and others. Reuben allegedly invented the "double decker" sandwich.

Did Arnold Reuben invent the "Reuben" sandwich (corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread)? What is known is that a "Reuben" sandwich was submitted to a national sandwich contest in 1956, and it won first prize. Another person named Reuben -- Reuben Kulakofsky (1875-1960), from Omaha, Nebraska -- takes credit for that sandwich. The sandwich is said to have been invented at a 1920s card game at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska; there is evidence of the "Reuben sandwich" on a Blackstone Coffee Shop menu from 1934. New York City's Arnold Reuben sold sandwiches similar to the "Reuben" for many years, but no sandwich identical to it or any sandwich named simply "Reuben."

A modern sandwich partner to the "Reuben" has been the "Rachel." "Reuben and Rachel" was an 1871 popular song with words written by Harry Birch and music by William Gooch. The Rachel sandwich has been less popular and its ingredients are not standardized, but the Rachel usually doesn't contain corned beef. A "Rachel sandwich" with chicken was cited in 1931 newspapers and a "Rachel sandwich" with sausages was cited in a 1965 newspaper. The St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch in August 1993 explained that a "Rachel sandwich" in a local restaurant was served with pastrami, and a "Rebecca sandwich" used turkey pastrami.


American Memory
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
[Reuben and his Restaurant]
(...)
DATE December 18, 1938
SUBJECT REUBEN AND HIS RESTAURANT -"THE LORE OF A SANDWICH

"Well, boys, sit down; what can I tell you? Here you see me busy like all the time; what is it; a book? kinda success story you want? hah, hek, well, you know, I've been written up. Well, boys, of course there's the story of how I came to make my sandwiches and that, boys, is the story of my life, I suppose. Well, somebody once put it, "From a sandwich to a national institution" And that, boys, is the story of Arnold Reuben's life. You know, I used to be a peddlar when I was a kid and I used to own a little shtoonky delicatessen store on Seventy Third Street and Broadway. Well, today, you got a look at the layout downstairs didn't you? Well, what do you think of it? Nice, uh? Well, you know we've got all the celebrities coming in and out almost any night and they eat my sandwiches, so once I got the idea to name a sandwich after a celebrity, and that's how it all started. Sort of somebody once said I was the father of the sandwich. Have you ever eaten a Reuben Special? Yeh, boys, we get orders for a Reuben Special Air-mail from California. We ship all over the world. From a Sandwich to a National Institution. Look, boys, I sit up here and sometimes I laugh; you know, I laugh up my sleeve. Other delicatessan men, they began where I did in a shtoonky little store someplace, dirty, filthy, no machines then, everything by hand, well they never had any ideas. During the war I made a nice little pile. You know war time. Well
Page 2
then, every little delicatessan owner used to keep a few cans of anchovies and caviar in stock. Just a few cans at a time. Well, I figure it out that when things really get going nobody would be able to import the stuff. So what do you think I did? I went around to each little shtoonky place buying up a few cans at a time, and when things got hot and you couldn't get some good anchovies or caviar for love or money, who do you think you had to come to? Yes boys, you see! Well, I'll tell you about how I got the sandwich idea. I owned a delicatessan on Broadway and one day a dame walks in, one of the theatrical dames, and she's down and out I suppose, and she asks me for something to eat. Her name was Anna Selos. Well, I'm feeling sort of good, so I figure I'll clown around for the dame. That's how it all came about. I'm clowning for the dame. Well, what do I do? I take a holy bread that I used to keep and grab up the knife and, you know, clowning like, I cut it right through on the bias. Then I take some roast beef, I don't remember exactly what. But, anyway, I figure I'll put anything on. So I take some meat and cheese and I slap it on, and I put on some spice and stuff and I make her up a sandwich; it was a foot high. Well the dame just eats it, that's all. She must have been plenty hungry. And when she gets through she says, "Mr. Reuben, that's the best sandwich I ever tasted in my life." Well, the idea comes to me in a flash. I'll call it the Anna Selos sandwich, after the dame. Then, one night, she brings some friends up, you know, stage people and a newspaper man, and this guy he goes right behind the counter and makes himself up a sandwich, and then he tells me why I don't call the sandwich after celebrities? Like what happened with Anna Selos. Why don't I call it the Anna Selos sandwich? Well, boys, in a flash, I get the idea. Anna Selos! I'll call it a Reuben Special. And that's how it started. Then one day Marjorie Rambeau came in to the store and I made her a sandwich and I called it the Marjorie Rambeau sandwich. How did I do it? Well, I just slap it together. Whatever came into my mind. But I used good stuff. Once Nikita Baileff, you know, of the Chauve Souria, came into the place downstairs and he knew that I made sandwiches for famous people and named it for them. So he says to me, "Mr. Reuben,
Page 3
make me a sandwich." Just like that. Well, I don't say no. I say sure, and in a flash I made him a sandwich. I went into the kitchen and I grabbed some whole wheat bread, slapped some tongue on it, some bar-le-due, sweep pickle and cream cheese and called it Chauve Souris. No, boys, I don't know exactly how I create sandwiches. It just comes to me in a flash.I'm not like the average delicatessen man, boys. Ideas, I always had ideas about things. When I create a sandwich I try to make it fit the character and temperament of the celebrity. Now you take Walter Winchell. I made him a sandwich of roast beef, swiss cheese and sliced dill pickle. Oh there's so many of them, boys, it just goes on and on.

14 January 1926, Marion (OH) Daily Star pg. 6, col. 8:
Thus does it carry out its advertising slogan: "From a sandwich to an institution."

24 January 1928, New York Morning Telegraph (From the Sophie Tucker Collection in the NY Public Library -- ed.):
REUBEN'S, that "different" delicatessen that Broadway has taken to its heart, is reported to have been built on top of a sandwich. After viewing the size of some of the Reuben sandwiches we can understand the solidity of the building in which the delicatessen is housed.

12 September 1931, Illinois State Journal (Springfield, IL), "The Chef Suggests" by Joseph Boggio, Hotel Plaza, New York, pg. 6, col. 4:
Rachel Sandwiches: Chop very finely some white celery and mix with an equal quantity of finely chopped cold chicken. Season to taste and mix with a little cream or mayonnaise. Spread between buttered slices of bread.

11 September 1932, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), "BILL STARTS 29TH SEASON: Hayward Nears Three Decades of Service in State University Athletics" by Dick Neuberger, sec. 6, pg. 4, col. 5:
This winter Colonel Bill Hayward will start his fourth decade of serve at the University of Oregon. Having begun as coach of the track team before he became football trainer, Colonel Hayward will embark upon his 30th season as director of the Webfoot cinder brigade in the spring. When Bill was new here, there were saloons on the streets of Eugene, and behind the swinging doors one could procure a foam-topped glass of beer and a fistful of Swiss cheese and corned beef sandwiches for 5 cents. Bill Hayward remembers the beer, though the sandwiches, tasty as they were, have faded from memory by this time

(Menu from Omaha, NE)
TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 1934
BLACKSTONE COFFEE SHOP
(...)
"Tasty-Pastry" Sandwiches
(...)
Reuben Sandwich...40

June 1936, Restaurant Management, pg. 412:
Hy's Three-Ring Circus MENU MAKING
E. A. Bachman, proprietor of the Annex, Portland, Oregon, features Hy Frager, the famous American chef who peps up menu listings with verbal acrobatics.
Pg. 413, col. 1:
Combination Sandwiches
"CLUBHOUSE" (Breast of Chicken, Crisp Premium Bacon, Tomato, Lettuce, Pickles and Olives)... .40
"RUEBEN" (Not "Reuben" - ed.) (Baked Premium Ham, White Meat Chicken, Coquille Swiss Cheese and Tomato on Russian Rye)... .45

14 April 1937, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), "Variety of Breads Add Interest to Lunch Box" by Nancy Morris (Director, Oregonian Home Institute), pg. 7, cols. 2-3:
Cold Reuben Sandwich
Butter a slice of pumpernickel bread. On it place a thin layer of cole slaw or kraut, thin slices of chicken, thin slice tomato, thin slice Swiss cheese, lettuce with Thousand Island dressing, then another layer of cold slaw or kraut. Place on top another slice of pumpernickel, toasted if desired.

17 April 1937, Lima (OH) News, pg. 4, col. 3:
S. Jay Kaufman, then a Broadway columnist, came every night and ceremoniously outlined recipes for his own sandwiches. One night Reuben offered to do it for him.

"Let your customers alone," Kaufman advised, "and maybe someday you'll go from a sandwich to an institution."

It was a phrase Arnold Reuben remembered. Today his rendezvous is known by it. He has publicized the idea from coast-to-coast.

(Menu from Omaha, NE)
THURSDAY, JUNE 3. 1937
HOTEL CORNHUSKER
COFFEE SHOP
(...)
SANDWICHES
(...)
Reuben 35, with Chicken 50

6 August 1937, The Daily Mail (Hagerstown, MD), "Man About Manhattan" by George Tucker (AP), pg. 8, col. 6:
All, that is, with the lone exception of the Eddie Duchin sandwich, which is corned beef and swiss cheese on toast, and which is 75 cents, the cheapest item on the menu.
(At Arnold Reuben's restaurant in New York City. -- ed.)

14 June 1939, The Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, "Sandwiches for Picnic or Noonday Lunch Must Be Hearty, Moist, Not Soggy" by Helen Robertson,
pg. 17, cols. 1-2:
Corned Beef Sandwiches
Slice or shred cooked or canned corned beef. Place between slices of whole wheat or rye bread with butter to which has been added just a suggestion of horseradish. A drop or two of onion juice, too, may be creamed to the butter. In preparing such sandwiches as these, be sure to wrap them securely in waxed paper or to encase them in an oiled silk envelope so that the flavors will not mingle.

A thin slice of Swiss cheese on the corned beef will add flavor and heartiness to the sandwich.

23 February 1940, Boston (MA) Herald, "Miss Mills Finds Some New Sandwich Fillings: Hearty Combinations Right For Winter Sports Parties;
Broadcast by Marjorie Mills," pg. 8, col. 3:
Lured by Grace Turner's story in The Sunday Herald "This Week" Magazine we stopped by Reuben's in New York the other day to try their famous sandwiches.
(...)
Col. Jay Flippen's namesake will have your husband's golf foursome shouting your praises. Corned beef on toasted rye bread with a thin slice of Swiss cheese melted over the top, mustard and cole slaw.

10 July 1940, Times-Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, PA), pg. 2, col. 1 ad:
A REUBEN SANDWICH
(Corned Beef, Sauer Kraut, Swiss Cheese on Rye Bread) with Potato Salad and a bottle of beer
65c
HOTEL STERLING

Google Books
Menu Making for Professionals in Quantity Cookery:
A Reference Book for Food Executives In: Hotels, Restaurants, Clubs, Schools, Fountains, Tearooms, Resorts, Camps, Cafeterias, Hospitals and Institutions

By Joseph Oliver Dahl
Stamford, CT: J. O. Dahl
1941 (This menu recipe is probably in the 1939 edition as well -- ed.)
Pg. 176:
RUBEN JUNIOR— Rye Bread, Switzerland Cheese, Sliced Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Dressing.

19 July 1941, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, "Little Old New York: Bread on the Broadway Waters" by Ed Sullivan, pg. 18, col. 7:
HOW COME Arnold to focus on the sandwich? I'll have to take you back to a nite in 1911...Into this small counter restaurant on Broadway, between 73d and 74th Sts., came showgirl Anette Seelos...She had been rehearsing all afternoon, and she told him to make her a sandwich, because she was starved...Now whether or not it is true that the good-looking Seelos inspired Arnold to herculean efforts remains to this day a mystery, but the fact emerges that he made her a sandwich to end all sandwiches: A compound of turkey, ham, swiss cheese, a spray of lettuce, a tomato tenderly sliced, and sliced onion and RUssian dressing to lend savor...This is the sandwich that later became famous as the Reuben Special...I was the best buy in New York.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
13 December 1946, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, "Brooklyn and Broadway Night Life: The Sandwich Heard Around the World" by Lew Schaeffer, pg. 16, col. 3:
It's all a far cry, but only 16 blocks, from Reuben's original delicatessen at 73d and Broadway. That was 35 years ago. It was a tiny place, just big enough for a dozen or so customers.

One day, in the early years, an actress named Annette Seelos stopped by after rehearsing all day. She was starved and told him to "put in everything." He did -- turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion slices, and Russian dressing. That was the first "Reuben's special." As an admirer of Marjorie Rambeau, a big star in those days, the restaurateur named a sandwich after her. It raised much "billing" jealousy among other show folk, so their names were used. The rest is Broadway history.

Dining Out in Hollywood and Los Angeles
by Craig Davidson
Assisted by Harry Mynatt
1949
Pg. 59: (The Players restaurant -- ed.)
For lunch, there is a long array of sandwiches that are full meals in themselves, starting with the Reuben Special, my favorite -- sliced breast of turkey, baked ham, imported Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian dressing on rye bread.

1 August 1949, The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS), pg. 7, col. 3 ad:
BEST IN JACKSON
Old Fashioned Corned Beef
With Swiss Cheese on Rye
Potato Salad, Olives, Pickles
Potato Chips ... 60c
Dutch Bar & Lounge

7 November 1949, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), "Suzette Says," pg. 20, col. 8 ad:
Jane J. was just finishing the last crust of her Rueben sandwich, made on the Blackstone's wonderful dark, dark rye, as she and Eileen pondered plans for the Campfire Candy Sale, beginning Sunday.

28 December 1949, New York Herald Tribune (Clementine Paddleford column), pg. 22, col. 6:
How Reuben's Lives Up to Sandwich King Title
Creator of Double-Decker
Has 44 Menu Selections;
Each Is a Meal in Itself
(...)
HANDOUT MEAL - It started back in 1915 when Mr. Reuben had a small delicatessen in the theater district on Broadway. A show girl came in one evening and asked him as a favor to fix her a free sandwich. She was out of work and had come to the end of her funds. Mr. Reuben took a French loaf much as delicatessens use for sandwich making and cut it on the bias, four long slices, buttered them well, then laid on the works, first sliced ham, next sliced turkey, then Swiss cheese, after that sliced onions and sliced tomatoes, cole slaw, and Russian dressing. He piled the pieces one on the other; the result was an astounding victual. "Name it Annette for me," she said, realizing that here was something truly impressive. Mr. Reuben gave his handiwork an admiring glance. He noted it as something no existing lip could reach around. "No, indeed, " he said, "I name this Reuben's Special." Later the girl Annette danced her way to success and came into Reuben's night after night t!o order "The Sandwich." Others took notice and ordered what they called Reuben's double-decker.

27 February 1953, The Gateway (University of Nebraska-Omaha), pg. 2, col. 5:
However, she doesn't know how long she could get along on steaks instead of Rueben (sic) sandwiches, which to the uninitiated consist of Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and corn beef.

6 March 1953, The Gateway (University of Nebraska-Omaha), "Duncan Hines Will Shudder At Crazy Food Concoctions," pg. 8, col. 1:
Lemon Rice Soup
For his favorite dish, the poor fellow may have eaten a reuben sandwich; sauerkraut, cheese and corned beef on rye bread toasted. Or he may have just downed some lemon rice soup; ...

6 July 1953, Lexington (KY) Herald, pg. 2, col. 3 ad:
Reuben Sandwich...#1.00
Slices of turkey, corned beef and swiss cheese, marinated sauerkraut all on rye bread with tartar sauce. Kosher pickle stick.
(Phoenix Hotel Coffee Shop. -- ed.)

Copp's Guide to New York City
by Harry Dewitt Copp
1954
Pg. 66:
REUBEN'S -- 6 East 58th St., near 5th Avenue
(...)
REUBEN'S SPECIAL -- Turkey, Roast Virginia Ham, Swiss Cheese, Cole Slaw, Russian Dressing
REUBEN'S STEAK SANDWICH
REUBEN'S HAMBURGER SANDWICH ON ROLL
REUBEN'S SUPERIOR -- Turkey, Roast Virginia Ham, Hard Boiled Egg, Tomato, Onion, Russian Dressing, Rye Bread
REUBEN'S PARADISE -- Turkey, Tongue, Tomato, India Relish, Rye Bread
HILDEGARDE -- Tongue, Swiss Cheese, Tomato, Russian Dressing, Rye Bread
ARNOLD REUBEN 3rd -- Turkey, Tomato, Bacon, Melted Cheese on Toasted White
CLUB A LA REUBEN -- First Layer: Dark Meat of Turkey, Lettuce, Bacon and Toast; Second Layer: White Meat of Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato and Bacon
PHIL BAKER -- Turkey, Hard Boiled Egg, Onions and Russian Dressing
ALAN CORELLI -- Tongue, Turkey, Tomato and Sliced Dill Pickle
AL JOLSON TARTAR SANDWICH -- Raw Meat, Raw Egg, Chopped Onion
HARRY HERSHFIELD -- "Can You Top This?" Tongue, Turkey, Tomato, Russian Dressing
JACK BENNY-MARY LIVINGSTON -- Tongue, Turkey, Swiss Cheese, Cole Slaw, Russian Dressing, Rye Bread
WALTER WINCHELL -- Sturgeon, Swiss Cheese and Sliced Dill Pickle
FRANK SINATRA -- Cream Cheese Bar-le-Duc, Tongue, Sweet Pickle, Whole Wheat Bread
MARY MARTIN -- Virginia Ham, Swiss Cheese, Sliced Dill Pickle, Rye Bread
GINGER ROGERS SPECIAL -- Imported Beluga Caviar and Cream Cheese on Rye or White Toast
ORSON WELLS (sic) -- Turkey, India Relish, Lettuce, Russian Dressing
JUDY GARLAND -- Nova Scotia Salmon and Swiss Cheese (Col. 2 -- ed.)
DANTON WALKER -- Nova Scotia Salmon and Cream Cheese
VIC DAMONE -- Turkey, Cole Slaw, Whole Wheat Toast (No Butter)
CAROL BRUCE -- Tongue, Mustard, Melted Swiss Cheese on Toasted Rye
MILTON BERLE -- Cream Cheese, Bar-le-Duc, Turkey, Whole Wheat Bread
TYRONE POWER -- Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Broiled French Toast, Maple Syrup
MOREY AMSTERDAM -- Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, Bologna
RUDY VALLEE -- Turkey, Bacon, Onion, TOmato, Russian Dressing
GEORGIA GIBBS -- Corned Beef, Melted Swiss Cheese on Toasted Rye Bread (Sounds like a classic "reuben" -- ed.)
JOEY ADAMS -- Tongue, Turkey and Mayonnaise
LOUIS SOBOL -- Cream Cheese and Bar-le-Duc, Chopped Pecans
DEAN MARTIN-JERRY LEWIS -- Turkey, Holland Ham, Rye Bread
ED SULLIVAN -- Chopped Chicken Liver, Turkey, Cole Slaw, Rye Toast
VIC LEVINE MPLS. SPECIAL -- Chopped Chicken Liver and Corned Beef on Rye Bread
DR. LEO MICHEL -- Virginia Ham, Tomato, Broiled French Toast
LUBA MALINA -- Nova Scotia Salmon, Cream Cheese, French Fried Onions
THE 52 ASSOCIATION -- Tongue, Holland Ham, Tomato, Cole Slaw
ETHEL MERMAN -- Turkey, Tomato, Hard Boiled Egg, Russian Dressing
NICK KENNY -- Turkey, Ham, Tongue, Cole Slaw
MIMI BENZELL -- Turkey, Tongue, Cole Slaw
JANE POWELL -- Grilled Cheese, Bacon, Tomatoes
SOPHIE TUCKER -- Turkey, Swiss Cheese and Salami
BARBARA STANWYCK SPECIAL -- Corned Beef, Melted Swiss Cheese and Bacon on Toasted Rye or White Bread

27 May 1954, Boston (MA) Evening American, "$4.25 for a Sandwich" by E. V. Durling, pg. 52, col. 2:
I tried a "Barbara Stanwyck sandwich." That is made of corned beef, Swiss cheese and bacon on toasted rye bread. Delicious! Price, $1.95.
(At Reuben's restaurant in New York City. -- ed.)

22 August 1955, Council Bluffs (IA) Nonpareil, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
TRY LUNCH at the Maid Rite. Enjoy a Ruben Sandwich.

September 1956, American Restaurant Magazine, pg. 105, col. 2:
National Sandwich Winners
THE RUEBEN, a hearty man-sized sandwich of corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on Russian rye bread, is the nation's top hotel and restaurant sandwich in the opinion of judges of the National Sandwich Idea Contest in which more than 600 different sandwich items are entered from all parts of the country and Hawaii. The Rueben was submitted by Fern Snider, chef at the Rose Bowl Restaurant in Omaha, Nebr.
(...)
(Delmonico Steak Sandwich was second. Curried Cheese and Olive Broiler Sandwich was third -- ed.)
(...)
Winners were announced at a luncheon given by Standard Brands, Inc., in New York City, with final winners selected by a panel of five food editors of national consumer publications.

Schumacher's Hotel (New Prague, MN)
Schumacher's has been serving these at the MN State Fair since God-knows-when.

Reuben Sandwich
Thinly sliced corned beef, Swiss cheese, Red Kraut and Thousand Island dressing served on grilled dark rye bread. Made famous at our Minnesota State Fair Restaurant.
Rachel Sandwich
Thinly sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, Red Kraut and Thousand Island dressing served on grilled dark rye bread.

24 January 1965, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), "Teen Fare Should Be Filling but Needn't Be Very Fancy" by Maude Coons, pg. 9E, col. 3:
A "Take-off"
Rachel sandwiches are a take-off on the popular Reuben sandwich of corned beef fame. The Rachels may be prepared in advance and then placed in the broiler for a three-minute browning before serving.

Brown-and-serve sausage makes it possible to cook the sandwiches quickly.

Rachel Sandwiches
2 packages (8-ounces each) brown-and-serve sausage links
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
10 slices rye bread
1 pound can sauerkraut, drained
10 slices Swiss cheese

Cut each brown-and-serve sausage in half lengthwise. Blend together with sour cream and mustard.

Spread each slice of rye bread with some of the sour cream mixture. Heap one-half cup of sauerkraut on top of the bread.

Place a slice of cheese on top of sauerkraut. For each sandwich, arrange four sausage halves crosswise on top of the cheese.

Put sandwiches on baking sheet. Place under broiler three minutes, or until sausage is browned and cheese is melted. To serve, cut in half crosswise. Makes 10 sandwiches.

29 August 1993, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, "Clayton With a New York Accent: The Post Nosh Expands Upon Classic Deli Fare" by Sheila Schultz, Magazine, pg. 17, col. 1:
She also guards the deli's recipes, including the one for the Russian dressing that gives the Reuben sandwich its distinctive flavor. A traditional Reuben sandwich consists of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on rye bread. Due to customer demand, two variations of this sandwich have been added to the menu. In the Rachel sandwich, pastrami is substituted for corned beef; in the Rebecca, turkey pastrami is the meat of choice.

New York (NY) Times
My Grandfather Invented the Reuben Sandwich. Right?
By ELIZABETH WEIL
Published: June 7, 2013
(...)
The official family story is this: My great-grandfather had a chain of hotels, and he also had four sons. He decided to train each son in an aspect of the business, so, in 1927, when my grandfather Bernard Schimmel was 18, his father sent him to the École Hôtelière in Lausanne, Switzerland, to learn to be a chef. A year later Bernard returned and started working at the Blackstone Hotel, in Omaha, Neb., where his father played poker every Sunday night.

Out of each pot, my great-grandfather and his card mates set aside a nickel or a dime to order what they called “a midnight lunch” from room service. One night one of the players, Reuben Kulakofsky, who owned a grocery store that has gone down in family lore as the Zabar’s of Omaha in the 1920s, asked for a sandwich with corned beef and sauerkraut. In the kitchen, my grandfather, who spent the previous year perfecting his sauces and ice-carving skills, drained the sauerkraut and mixed it with Thousand Island dressing. He layered that with homemade corned beef and Swiss cheese on dark rye bread and grilled it. His typewritten notes call for the sandwich to be served with a sliced kosher dill pickle, a rose radish and potato chips. The sandwich was a hit.

Bernard’s father put the Reuben sandwich on the Blackstone Hotel’s coffee-shop menu, and then all the coffee-shop menus of all the hotels in the chain. Then in 1956, Fern Snider, a waitress from one of the hotels, entered the Reuben in the National Sandwich Idea Contest, and it won.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Saturday, November 13, 2004 • Permalink