The Reuben sandwich is an American hot sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread. An uncommon variant exists which contains Russian Dressing.[1]

Possible origins

Reuben Kulakofsky, Blackstone Hotel: Omaha, Nebraska

One origin story holds that Reuben Kulakofsky (his first name sometimes spelled Reubin; his last name sometimes shortened to Kay), a Jewish Lithuanian-born grocer residing in Omaha, Nebraska, was the inventor, perhaps as part of a group effort by members of Kulakofsky's weekly poker game held in the Blackstone Hotel from around 1920 through 1935. The participants, who nicknamed themselves "the committee", included the hotel's owner, Charles Schimmel. The sandwich first gained local fame when Schimmel put it on the Blackstone's lunch menu, and its fame spread when a former employee of the hotel won a national contest with the recipe.[2] In Omaha, March 14 was proclaimed as Reuben Sandwich Day.[3]

Reuben's Delicatessen: New York City

  • Another account holds that the Reuben's creator was Arnold Reuben, the German-Jewish owner of the famed Reuben's Delicatessen (1908–2001) in New York City. According to an interview with Craig Claiborne, Arnold Reuben invented the "Reuben Special" around 1914.[4][5] The earliest references in print to the sandwich are New York–based, but that is not conclusive evidence, though the fact that the earliest, in a 1926 issue of Theatre Magazine, references a "Reuben Special", does seem to take its cue from Arnold Reuben's menu.
  • A variation of the above account is related by Bernard Sobel in his 1953 book, Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent. Sobel states that the sandwich was an extemporaneous creation for Marjorie Rambeau inaugurated when the famed Broadway actress visited the Reuben's Delicatessen one night when the cupboards were particularly bare.[6]
  • Some sources[who?] name the actress in the above account as Annette Seelos, not Marjorie Rambeau, while also noting that the original "Reuben Special" sandwich of 1926 did not contain corned beef or sauerkraut and was not grilled.
  • Still other versions give credit to Alfred Scheuing, a chef at Reuben's Delicatessen, and say he created the sandwich for Reuben's son, Arnold Jr., in the 1930s.[2]


Corned beef Reuben sandwich

Montreal Reuben

The Montreal Reuben substitutes Montreal-style smoked meat for corned beef.[7]

Thousand Island dressing

Thousand Island dressing is commonly used as a substitute for Russian dressing.[citation needed]

Walleye Reuben

The Walleye Reuben is a version of the classic that features the Minnesota state fish, the walleye, Sander vitreus, in place of the corned beef. It is eaten in Minnesota and Ohio.[8][9][10]

Grouper Reuben

The grouper Reuben is a variation on the standard Reuben sandwich, substituting grouper for the corned beef, and sometimes will substitute coleslaw for the sauerkraut as well. This variation is often a menu item in restaurants in Florida.[11]

Reuben egg rolls

Reuben egg rolls, sometimes called "Irish egg rolls" or "Reuben balls", use the standard Reuben sandwich filling of corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese inside a deep-fried egg roll wrapper. Typically served with Thousand Island dressing (instead of Russian dressing) as an appetizer or snack, they originated at Mader's, a German restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where chef Dennis Wegner created them for a summer festival in about 1990.[12]

Rachel sandwich

The Rachel sandwich is a variation on the standard Reuben sandwich, substituting pastrami for the corned beef, and coleslaw for the sauerkraut.[13] Other recipes for the Rachel call for turkey instead of pastrami.[14][15] In some parts of the United States, especially Michigan, this turkey variant is known as a "Georgia Reuben" or "California Reuben", and it may also call for barbecue sauce or French dressing instead of Russian dressing.

See also


  1. ^ "Reuben", Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.
  2. ^ a b Rader, Jim. "The Reuben Sandwich". Reuben Realm. 
  3. ^ Griswold, Jennifer. "Today is Proclaimed Reuben Sandwich Day". KMTV. 
  4. ^ Jared Ingersoll (2006). "Toasted Reuben sandwich". Danks Street Depot. Murdoch Books. p. 115. ISBN 9781740455985. 
  5. ^ Craig Claiborne. The New York Times Food Encyclopedia. See also Arnold Reuben interview, American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936–1940, quoted on What's cooking America site.
  6. ^ Sobel, Bernard (1953). "Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent". New York City: Hermitage House: 233. OCLC 1514676. 
  7. ^ "Montreal Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich", The Gazette
  8. ^ Minneapolis, Town Ball Tavern 1 Twins Way; MN. "Walleye Reuben @ Town Ball Tavern". 
  9. ^ Otis, Ginger Adams (September 6, 2015). "Ohio proves to be a great destination for a history- and fun-loving family". New York Daily News. 
  10. ^ Deptolla, Carol (May 17, 2012). "Chez Ballpark: What's good to eat at Miller Park". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. For the homestand against the Minnesota Twins this weekend, look for walleye Reuben sandwiches, for $9.25. 
  11. ^ Calloway, Karin (September 21, 2010). "Takeoff on Reuben sandwich makes tasty meal". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved February 2, 2011. In Florida … many restaurants serve a grouper Reuben 
  12. ^ Zeldes, Leah A. (March 10, 2010). "Irish' food in Chicago isn't quite so in Ireland: Who played a role in the reuben egg roll?". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 15, 2010. 
  13. ^ Mary-Lane Kamberg (2004). "Grilled Reuben sandwich variation: Grilled Rachel sandwich". The I Don't Know How to Cook Book: 300 Great Recipes You Can't Mess Up. Adams Media. p. 42. ISBN 9781593370091. 
  14. ^ Popik, Barry (November 13, 2004). "Reuben Sandwich (and Rachel Sandwich, Celebrity Sandwiches)". The Big Apple. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ Rombauer, Irma S.; Becker, Marion Rombauer; Becker, Ethan (2006). "Reuben Sandwich". Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary ed.). Scribner. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-7432-4626-2. For a Rachel, substitute turkey for the corned beef. 

Further reading