“There’s no reason why this should be as good as it is…well, no, you’re right, corned beef. Right, that, that helps a lot.”
~Reuben Scientists (shut up, they exist)
When we undertook the foolhardy-in-retrospect project of listing every regional submarine-style sandwich in America, we were greeted by a lot of feedback. Mainly, “What about the sandwiches that aren’t shaped like dicks? What about those sandwiches.” Of course, if we had expanded our criteria to include all sandwiches in America, we’d all be dead, having emotionally snapped and rented a bus to drive our whole staff into the ocean somewhere between writing up the dagwood sandwich and the Limburger sandwich. Our families wouldn’t have even shown up at the funerals, so worried that the corpses would spring back to life to tell them to spend twenty minutes complaining that the Jibarito isn’t nearly well-known enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page. Ultimately, the decision to limit the sandwiches in our regional sandwiches articles was the right one, both for the marriages of our staff as well as for our rapidly depleted alcohol supply, but it did leave us feeling a little hollow. What was the point in tearing out our hair to scrap together a few sentences on how people who call sandwiches “sarneys” are terrible people who should pay for what they have done, if we don’t get to reward ourselves by looking at pictures of delicious non-elongated sandwiches. Sandwiches that we love, that we crave, that make our lives better.
Sandwiches like the Reuben.
The Reuben is either your favorite sandwich, or the sandwich you always forget about until you see someone order a Reuben and say, “Goddamn, it’s been a while since I’ve had a Reuben, I’ll take one too, now that you mention it.” Everyone appreciates it, even though most of us probably think that the Reuben has foreign, possibly European, origins. It’s not an unfair assumption. After all, this is a toasted rye bread sandwich that’s filled with ingredients that are considered Jewish or Irish (corned beef), Swiss (cheese), Russian (dressing), or German (sauerkraut). Of course, the very multicultural aspect of the Reuben itself should be a clear indicator that it has American origins, though the simple fact that it’s delicious and savory and way more unhealthy than even your worst assumptions (yes, yes, all the saturated fats, all of them into the churning maw) should be enough of a clue as far as its Americanness goes. And we’re going to let you in on the American history of this cultural hodgepodge of cured meat, fermented cabbage, and mayonnaise haphazardly mixed with ketchup. Not because the Reuben is the sandwich you need, but because it’s the sandwich you deserve.
The American History Of The Reuben Sandwich