8 Fun Cuban Sandwich Facts & History (Who Knew?) by Donna John
a year ago
How much do you know about the Cuban sandwich? Here are some fun tidbits!
- While an early cousin of the Cuban sandwich was born in Cuba proper, the Cuban sandwich as we know it today originated in Tampa, Fla.'s cigar-producing neighborhood of Ybor City in the late 1800s and caught on by the early 1900s. It was popular among workers in the district's many cigar factories.
- While it's called a "Cuban" sandwich after the Cuban immigrants who settled in early Ybor City and influenced the sandwich the most, the ingredients are also a nod to the southern Italian bricklayers and the German cigar workers who also immigrated there.
- Salami was added via the Italian bricklayers, who found that placing a hot brick on top of the sandwich for a few minutes pressed it flat and made it taste better.
- Mustard was a condiment flavor preferred by the Germans. It also didn't spoil in the Florida heat. That's why there's no mayo on a traditional Cubano – refrigeration was scarce in Tampa in the early 20th century.
- Tampa and Miami have enjoyed a rivalry over ownership of the Cuban sandwich, though Miami-style Cuban sandwiches are made without the traditional salami. Miami Cuban sandwich connoisseurs say that the salami is blasphemous.
- By the 1970s, the Cuban sandwich had spread to menus around the U.S., but in 2015, the Cuban Sandwich Factory opened in Belfast, Ireland, and in 2016, the Tampa Cuban Sandwich Bar opened in Seoul, Korea.
- The annual Cuban Sandwich Festival in Ybor City attracts competitors from around the U.S. In 2015, participating restaurants joined forces to make a 105-foot-long Cuban sandwich, the world’s longest.
- In 2012, the Tampa City Council and Mayor Bob Buckhorn passed a resolution making the Cuban sandwich the city's official sandwich.