The Reuben sandwich is an American grilled sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread. It is associated with kosher-style delicatessens, but it is not kosher, because it combines meat and cheese.

Possible origins

Reuben Kulakofsky and Bernie Schimmel, 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, asked for a sandwich made of corned beef and sauerkraut at his 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. Schimmel's son, who worked in the kitchen, made the first Reuben for him, adding swiss cheese and thousand islands dressing to his order, putting the whole thing on rye bread. 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 the national sandwich idea contest with the recipe. In Omaha, March 14 was proclaimed Reuben Sandwich Day. Mention is made of this sandwich in a scene within the movie ''Quiz Show'', where Richard N. Goodwin (known as Dick) orders and eats one in a restaurant with Charles van Doren, and they discuss the sandwich's origins.

Reuben's Delicatessen: New York City, New York

* Another account holds that the Reuben's creator was Arnold Reuben, the German-Jewish owner of Reuben's Delicatessen (1908–2001) in New York City. According to an interview with Craig Claiborne, Arnold Reuben created the "Reuben Special" around 1914. Bernard Sobel in his 1953 book, ''Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent'' 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. * 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.


Montreal Reuben

The Montreal Reuben substitutes the corned beef with Montreal-style smoked meat.

Thousand Island dressing

Thousand Island dressing is commonly used as a substitute for Russian dressing.

Walleye Reuben

The walleye Reuben features the freshwater fish (''Sander vitreus'') in place of the corned beef.

Grouper Reuben

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

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 circa 1990.

Rachel sandwich

The Rachel sandwich is a variation which substitutes pastrami or turkey for the corned beef, and coleslaw for the sauerkraut. 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. The name may have originated from the 1871 song "Reuben and Rachel".

Vegetarian and vegan versions

Vegetarian versions, called "veggie Reubens", omit the corned beef or substitute vegetarian ingredients for it, including zucchini, cucumbers, wheatmeat, and mushrooms. Vegan versions can use seitan, tempeh or mushrooms with non-dairy cheese, dressing and butter.

Kosher status

As a Reuben combines both meat and dairy ingredients in the same meal, it cannot be kosher. However, it is frequently served at kosher style restaurants. Kosher versions may be made using non-dairy imitation cheese or omitting the meat or the cheese."Kosher Reuben Sandwiches" in Faye Levy, ''1,000 Jewish Recipes'', 2011, , p. 347

See also

* List of American sandwiches * List of sandwiches * Pastrami on rye * Sloppy joe (New Jersey)


Further reading

* * * * * {{Sandwiches Category:American sandwiches Category:Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine Category:Ashkenazi Jewish culture in the United States Category:Cheese sandwiches Category:German-Jewish culture in New York City Category:Jewish American cuisine Category:Jews and Judaism in Omaha, Nebraska Category:Kosher style Category:Lithuanian-Jewish culture in the United States Category:Rye-based dishes Category:Cuisine of Omaha, Nebraska Category:Beef sandwiches Category:Hot sandwiches