Okay, stop me if you heard this one – a hungry leading lady walked into a restaurant…
The actress was Annette Seelos, the year on your time-machine dial is 1914, and the place was New York.
It was late, probably after a full day of doing actress stuff, and she was staw-ving. Famished, she told the restaurant owner that she could “eat a brick.” On the spot, he created the now-famous combination sandwich. She loved it. In fact, she loved it so much she suggested to the owner, Arnold Reuben, that he call the sandwich the “Annette Seelos Special.” Um, he didn’t.
Now set your time machine to 1925, smack dab in the middle of America. Reuben Kulakodsky, an Omaha grocer, is dealing cards at his weekly poker game. The games were long, and his friend’s stories were boring. So, rather than chew the fat, they chewed on homemade sandwiches. One night, probably after folding the best hand, Reuben decided it was time for a bite. Long story short, his poker pal and owner of the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Charles Schimmel loved the sandwich he dealt so much he put it on his hotel’s menu.
Both stories are widely published, and both claim to be the real deal, so I guess you can choose your favorite one. Regardless of where and when the Reuben was first created, the best “real deal” Rueben around these parts can be found at Hargberg’s deli – piled with corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss, and thousand island dressing on marble rye – no time machine required.