In 2019, a little over 46 million people visited the city of brotherly love to see all that Philadelphia has to offer- and it isn’t hard to see why. Philadelphia is known as one of the most modern, dynamic cities in the United States while also providing tourists an in-depth look at our nation’s history. Within the city’s walls lie some of the most popular historic sites in the country, such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Betsy Ross house. Each year, millions of history buffs flock to these historic sites, and later, will stop for a meal at the famous Geno’s Steaks. Geno’s Steaks is proud to be the creator of the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia, and part of American sandwich history. Today, Geno’s Steaks will share the history behind cheesesteaks and some of America’s other popular sandwiches.
It would be impossible to talk about American sandwich history without talking about cheesesteaks. While the exact origins of the “modern” cheesesteak are unknown, cheesesteaks first appeared in South Philadelphia in the early 1930s. From 1870-1930, political upheaval in Italy caused many Italians to emigrate to America. Of these immigrants, many chose to settle in Southern Philadelphia, in an area that would later be named the Italian market. In the Italian market, many street vendors sold deli meats and sandwiches out of their carts, and it is said that one day, one vendor named Pat Olivieri decided to create a new sandwich for his menu. A cab driver, smelling Mr. Olivieri’s thinly sliced rib-eye frying, stopped to purchase the new sandwich, and the rest is history.
While the sloppy joe sandwich is quite simplistic in its ingredients, its history is anything but. Similar to Philadelphia’s cheesesteak, the exact origins of the sloppy joe remain highly debated. Some accounts believe that the sloppy joe was first made by a Sioux City cook named Joe in 1930, while others believe that the sandwich was, in fact, created at the Sloppy Joe’s Saloon in Havana in the 1940s. While the original sloppy joe’s inventor remains a mystery, the sandwich has quickly become a fan favorite for American families everywhere.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
While today the peanut butter and jelly (PB&J) sandwich is undoubtedly the main food source of American children, the sandwich was originally intended solely for the rich and elite. After peanut butter’s popularity grew during its appearance at the 1893 Chicago World Fair, peanut butter sandwiches began to appear in numerous upscale tea rooms throughout New York City. Shortly after this, Julia David Chandler published the first PB&J recipe for tea rooms in 1901, whose ingredients included peanut butter and crab-apple jelly. PB&J remained an exclusive food until the 1930s when families during the Great Depression realized the sandwich was a great source of nutrition and calories.