The Rueben

The Reuben: A mysterious beginning!

You be the judge! Quite the mysterious sandwich, the Reuben has been on restaurant menus for decades. But where did it come from? How did it get its name? Who created this sumptuous and savory concoction? A grilled sandwich made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread. Many lay their claim to the invention of the Reuben but there are two stories that seem to be the strongest. You be the judge, which story do you believe?

Claim 1

Patricia B. Taylor, daughter of Arnold Reuben (1883-1970), the founder of Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, remembers that her father made the first Reuben Sandwich in 1914. She described the incident to Crag Claiborne of the New York Times in his book called Craig Claibornes – The New York Times Food Encyclopedia: ·

The year was 1914. Late one evening a leading lady of actor Charlie Chaplin came into the restaurant and said, ‘Reuben, make me a sandwich, make it a combination, I’m so hungry I could eat a brick.’He took a loaf of rye bread, cut two slices on the bias and stacked one piece with sliced Virginia ham, roast turkey, and imported Swiss cheese, topped off with coleslaw and lots of Reuben’s special Russian dressing and the second slice of bread. He served it to the lady who said, ‘Gee, Reuben, this is the best sandwich I ever ate, you ought to call it an Annette Seelos Special.’ To which he replied, ‘Like hell I will, I’ll call it a Reuben’s Special.’

Claim 2

Elizabeth Weil the great grand daughter of Charles Schimmel tells the story of what she learned through family reunions. Reuben Kay was playing poker with a few men including Charles Schimmel. They all chipped in every pot for a midnight sandwich break. This night Reuben asked Charles’ son, Bernard who was a European trained chef for the hotel, for corned beef and sauerkraut sandwich. Chef Bernard went to work with his culinary perspective and drained the sauerkraut, mixed in Thousand Island dressing, and added this to a grilled corned beef and Swiss sandwich on dark rye. The Reuben was born!

At Lloyds Chicago, we stake a claim to having a Reuben sandwich that is homemade from crust to crust. Our Reuben is stacked high on fresh rye bread with house smoked corned beef, Lloyds tangy thousand island dressing & sauerkraut topped with creamy Swiss cheese and grilled to perfection. Our savory Reuben sandwich is crunchy, creamy, salty, and savory all in one bite. On your way to or from Union station or going out for theater or opera night, then stop in at Lloyd’s Chicago where American comfort food fills up your mind, body, and soul. See you soon!