The Reuben sandwich is a North American grilled sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread. It is associated with kosher-style delicatessens, but not kosher because it combines meat and cheese.
Reuben Kulakofsky (his first name is often written Reuben; his last name is commonly shortened to Kay), a Jewish Lithuanian-born grocer in Omaha, Nebraska, is said to have requested a corned beef and sauerkraut sandwich at his weekly poker game at the Blackstone Hotel from roughly 1920 to 1935. Charles Schimmel, the hotel’s proprietor, was among the participants, who dubbed themselves “the committee.” The first Reuben was cooked for Schimmel by his son, who worked in the kitchen, who added Swiss cheese and thousand islands dressing to his order and served it on rye toast. After Schimmel put the sandwich on the Blackstone’s lunch menu, it garnered a local reputation, and it went further when a former hotel employee won a national sandwich idea contest with the recipe.
The 14th of March has been designated as Reuben Sandwich Day in Omaha.  This sandwich is mentioned in a scene from the film Quiz Show, in which Richard N. Goodwin (a.k.a. Dick) orders and eats one in a restaurant with Charles van Doren, and the two examine the sandwich’s origins.
According to another source, Arnold Reuben, the German-Jewish owner of New York City’s Reuben’s Delicatessen (1908–2001), was Reuben’s originator. Accord ing to a Craig Claiborne interview, Arnold Reuben invented the “Reuben Special” in 1914. According to Bernard Sobel’s book Broadway Heartbeat: Memoirs of a Press Agent, the sandwich was invented on the spur of the moment for Marjorie Rambeau when she visited Reuben’s Delicatessen one night when the cupboards were particularly barren.
Other accounts credit Alfred Scheuing, a cook at Reuben’s Delicatessen, with creating the sandwich in the 1930s for Reuben’s son, Arnold Jr.
In the Montreal Reuben, the corned beef is replaced with Montreal-style smoked meat.
As a substitute for Russian dressing, Thousand Island dressing is widely used.
The freshwater fish (Sander vitreus) replaces the corned beef in the walleye Reuben.
The grouper Reuben is a variation on the classic Reuben sandwich, with the grouper replacing the corned beef and coleslaw replacing the sauerkraut. This version is frequently found on the menus of Florida eateries.
Reuben egg rolls, also known as “Irish egg rolls” or “Reuben balls,” are made with a deep-fried egg roll wrapper with a traditional Reuben sandwich filling of corned beef, sauerkraut, and cheese. They originated at Mader’s, a German restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when chef Dennis Wegner devised them for a summer festival circa 1990. They are typically served with Thousand Island dressing (instead of Russian dressing) as an appetizer or snack.
The Rachel sandwich is a version that replaces corned beef with pastrami or turkey and coleslaw with sauerkraut. This turkey version is known as a “Georgia Reuben” or “California Reuben” in some parts of the United States, particularly Michigan, and it may also ask for barbecue sauce or French dressing instead of Russian dressing. The name “Reuben and Rachel” may have come from a song written in 1871.
Vegetarian variations, known as “veggie Reubens,” eliminate the corned beef or replace it with vegetables such as zucchini, cucumbers, wheat meat, and mushrooms. Vegan versions can include non-dairy cheese, dressing, and butter, as well as the aforementioned wheat meat, also known as seitan, tempeh, or mushrooms.
A Reuben cannot be kosher because it contains both meat and dairy ingredients in the same dish. It is, nonetheless, regularly served in kosher eateries. Non-dairy imitation cheese or eliminating the meat or the cheese can be used to make kosher versions.
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