The Reuben -- that delectable combination of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread -- is celebrating more than 60 years as one of America's best loved sandwiches.
The concoction was invented by Reuben Kulakofsky during a break in the action of his weekly poker game at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. Kulakofsky, a deli owner by trade, assembled his now-famous namesake from fixins in the hotel's kitchen. Before long, the unusual combination became the unlikely star of the Blackstone's menu.
Lady Luck followed the sandwich when it won the National Wheat Flour Institute's Sandwich Idea Contest in 1956. By then, the Reuben had become a huge hit throughout the rest of the country.
The streak has continued over the years as Reuben renditions have appeared in everything from soups and salads to casseroles, omelets and even pizza. In fact, Pickle Packers International, the trade organization for the nation's pickle and sauerkraut industry, has tracked and catalogued Reuben recipes since the sandwich's creation. The group has recipes ranging from Reuben Salad to Reuben Pizza.
Some of the newest Reuben variations are skinnier versions of their former selves, reflecting today's lighter eating habits.
Try experimenting with various meats - for example, corned beef can be replaced with lean smoked turkey. Or, substitute low-fat Swiss cheese for regular. But don't give up the piquant sauerkraut - it provides the Reuben's signature flavor with very few calories and without a single bit of fat.
One thing's for certain -- no matter how many variations, good taste, if not good fortune, is sure to follow.