Originally posted by Captain Morgan
I google this up
2 - Arnold Kolakofsky, an Omaha grocer. A friend of Kolakofsky entered it in a national sandwich contest in 1956 and won. It gained popularity at this time.
it's Reuben Kolakofsky. The 1956 reference is from the movie Quiz Show and is not true. However, Reuben K was making the sandwich for a group of guys who played poker together in the 20's and 30's. Around 1935 Charles Schimmel, one of the poker players, put the sandwich on his menu at the Blackstone Hotel's menu. The earliest artifact dating the Omaha, NE version is from a 1937 Blackstone menu.
Although, Ed Schimmel (Charles' son) said after a trip to NYC that he ordered a Rueben and "they never heard of it," his story cannot be corraberated.
The winner of the 1956 Sandwich contest was actually Fern Snyder who owner the Rose Bowl Restaurant in Omaha. And while one could argue that the contest gave the sandwich its fame, it was certainly not an original concept by 1956.
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.'
This story, which I pulled from the web is suspect, since Annette Seelos was not in a film with Charlie Chaplin in or before 1914. Also, the ingredients are not what we recognize as a Reuben. Reuben Arnold's own version of the story (which he told in a 1938 interview) doesn't give it a year, but he does mention that he made a sandwich for Anna Seelos - however, he also doesn't mention corned beef or kraut as the ingredients.
A book by George LEonard Herter, published in the 50's, attributed the sandwich to Arnold Reuben's friend William Hamerly, who named the sandwich after Reuben Arnold in honor of all the charitible work Reuben had done in his lifetime. Aside form the book, there is no other evidence to support that claim.
Therefore, given the fact that Arnold Rueben's sandwich sandwich may not have had the ingredients we think of with today's reuben sandwich, I would argue that the sandwich made in the 20's by Reuben K and put on the menu at Blackstone's Hotel by 1937, is the "original." It comes down to documentation. And while, IMO, NYC has perfected the sandwich and the rueben sandich is certainly at home in NY, it can't be called the birthplace.