The Po’ Boy Sandwhich Originated In?
Answer: New Orleans
If you’re a connoisseur of quintessentially American sandwiches: sloppy joes, cheese steaks, and such, you’ve most certainly tried the humble po’ boy at some point. The humble sandwich has both its physical and etymological origins in the heart of French-influenced Louisiana.
The po’ boy is a submarine sandwich that is primarily differentiated from other submarine sandwiches by the bread type; they’re made with, you guessed it, French bread. Historically they were served hot and were packed with seafood and freshwater fish abundant in the New Orleans region like fried shrimp, oysters, crab, as well as catfish and crayfish. Some people in the region still refer to such sandwiches (fried seafood on a French loaf) as “oyster loaves”, although that isn’t a common usage anymore.
Although the oyster bread sandwiches are still around, the sandwich further evolved during the 1920s. In 1929, streetcar workers went on strike for four months. During that time many of the streetcar workers would get free sandwiches at a restaurant owned by former streetcar conductors-turned-entrepreneurs Benny and Clovis Martin. The brothers referred, jokingly, to their friends and former colleagues as the “poor boys”, in New Orleans’ dialect the phrase was truncated into “po’ boy”, and the sandwich thus named and created with inexpensive ingredients (like lunch meats and cheese) to feed the striking workers has carried the name every since.
Image courtesy of David Reber.