Lore of The Reuben

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While having an ‘after shifter’ with our team the other night, our musings walked us down the road to our Reuben Sandwich. A pic of the 1313 Clubs’ creation had recently been featured as a cover photo for North Idaho Life Foodies and we were really excited about it! Knowing just a wee bit about this concoction, I poured another Bourbon and shed some light on the subject.

If you think about it, this is actually one hell of an international composition. Irish Corned Beef, German Sauerkraut, Russian Dressing, Swiss Cheese, and Jewish Rye. It’s as if a few folks from the UN got together, downed a pint or two and made a team sandwich.

The controversy surrounding the birth of the Reuben run old and run deep and are somewhat amusing. I mean, seriously, a one-hundred-year old debate about the genesis of a lunch menu item? Chest thumping origins date from 1914 to 1937.

Arnold Reuben, founder of New York’s Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, claims the creation was inspired in 1914 by an out of work actress who may or may not have been a Charlie Chaplin paramour. In an interview in 1937, Arnold details the ingredients of his “man sized sandwich” which does not include either corned beef or pastrami. So, there you go.

Another New Yorker, Jacob Reuben, felt that his family’s Jewish Orthodox ways were uncool. Right? Jacob moved out of the family abode and was one the first Jews in Brooklyn to have just one kitchen – the other he converted into a study. Jake laid said “Dibs” around 1925 whilst working the deli he opened in line with his career as a butcher. Corroborating accounts for this “Reuben” don’t rank highly.

Lithuanian born Reuben Kulakofsky hailed from Omaha, Nebraska and his claim appears more widely accepted. At about the same time that the Dagwood and Blondie comic strip hit the scene (circa 1933), Mr. Kulakofsky was a wholesale grocer and co-owner of the Central Market in Omaha. “Kay”, as he was affectionately known, spent quite a bit of time with his poker buddies. They called themselves “The Committee” and liked to create sandwiches that sated them after rigorous hours of bluffing and puffing. One of the regulars at the table, Charles Schimmel, owned The Blackstone Hotel and put the sandwich on his menu; must have been Reuben’s lucky night.

Rather than put my stamp on any one in particular, I’m going to take the safe route and assume that The Reuben simply evolved. But who cares anyway? Along with the fact that this sandwich is my personal favorite, it has a lot of lore behind it. You’ve got to admit that with so many people clamoring for ownership rights there’s just something special about The Reuben. Come see us at 1313 Club and take a bite of history.