Pulled pork, a barbecue staple, is meat (often pork shoulder) that’s been long-smoked, then pulled apart into shreds. It’s not certain who first decided to make a sandwich out of it, but credit sometimes goes to Leonard Heuberger of Leonard’s barbecue pit in Memphis, who put the meat, along with barbecue sauce and coleslaw on a bun in the 1920s. The sandwich is also widely associated with North Carolina, though barbecue joints all over America serve it today.
The deli classic known as the Reuben sandwich — corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread — was named for a man called Reuben. Which man called Reuben is a matter of some debate. Most sources say that it’s Arnold Reuben of Reubens Restaurant and Delicatessen, who is said to have created the sandwich in 1914 (however, his original was made with baked ham and roast turkey instead of corned beef). An alternate theory cites Reuben Kulakofsky, co-owner of the Central Market in Omaha, who may have invented it in 1925 to feed his poker buddies. Either way, it has become one of the most famous of all American sandwiches.
No other sandwich goes by as many different names — submarine, sub, hero, hoagie, grinder, wedge, torpedo, etc., etc. The original version, involving salami, cheese, pickled peppers, and olives, piled into a long, soft Italian-style roll dressed with olive oil, was probably introduced to America in the early 20th century by Italian immigrant laborers. As it became popular beyond the Italian community, such ingredients as roast beef, sliced turkey, American-style cheeses, lettuce and tomato, and mayonnaise or mustard were added. Bánh mì, the Philly cheese steak, Italian beef, the po’boy, and the meatball sandwich (see above for all of these) are variations on the theme.
Canned tuna is the second-most-popular form of seafood in the country after shrimp, and Americans eat about 1 billion pounds of canned (including pouched) tuna annually. One of the most common ways to use canned tuna, of course, is in mayonnaise-bound tuna salad. And one of the most popular ways to eat tuna salad is in a tuna melt — an open-faced sandwich in which a tuna salad has been topped with cheddar or some other cheese and passed under the broiler (sometimes it is reassembled as a conventional sandwich after this process). References to open-faced tuna sandwiches topped with melted cheese date back at least to 1946, but the tuna melt as we know it probably dates only from the 1970s.
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