How cool would it be to have a food named after you? To know that every time people ordered it, or ate it, they would be saying your name? A host of salads, entrees, drinks, and desserts have been named for specific people, usually in honor of their memory or as a tribute to their lives. Some foods named after people are self-explanatory, but others have a more convoluted story behind them. There are also pretenders to the throne who claim to be the impetus for the names of various foods but are, in actuality, just trying to steal someone else’s limelight. Warning: reading the following list while hungry may have diet-busting results. Bon appetit!
1. Graham crackers
New Jersey Reverend Sylvester Graham invented the Graham cracker in 1829. Originally called "Dr. Graham’s Honey Biscuits," Graham crackers were supposed to be a health food and part of Graham’s diet to suppress carnal urges. He thought one’s sexual appetite could be curbed through eating bland foods. The cracker, which combined fine-ground white flour with coarse-ground wheat bran and germ, was one of Graham’s aids to stop masturbation and prevent impure thoughts. While most people today probably don’t eat Graham crackers for the same reasons, it might be helpful to know the intended side effects of eating these sweet and salty crackers!
2. Earl Grey tea
Named after Charles Grey, the Second Earl Grey who was Britain’s Prime Minister in the 1830s, Earl Grey tea was supposedly a gift given to him by a Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of Earl Grey’s men. The tea is characterized by its flavoring of bergamot oil (bergamot is a citrus fruit from Southeast Asia). If you’re a tea drinker, you either love Earl Grey tea or hate it — usually there’s no in-between with this unusual-tasting tea.
3. Bloody Mary
There are a few tales surrounding how the Bloody Mary drink got its name. It is most often believed to be named after Queen Mary I of England, and thought to be invented by bartender Fernand Petiot in a Paris bar called the New York Bar in 1929. Tabasco was added to the drink in 1934, when Petiot was working at the St. Regis Hotel, and the Bloody Mary name stuck. Of course, probably the last thing on your mind while savoring a Bloody Mary is how it got its name.
4. Reuben Sandwich
Just like most of these foods named after people, the origin of the Reuben sandwich is in question. The most popular story claims that Reuben Kulakofsky, a Nebraska grocer, invented the sandwich, which was eaten during his weekly poker games from 1920 through 1935. However, a New Yorker, Arnold Reuben, who ran Reuben’s Delicatessen, claims to have invented the sandwich in 1914. The earliest known reference to the sandwich being on a menu was in 1937 in Nebraska, so most people take Kulakofsky’s claim over Reuben’s.
5. Kaiser roll
Invented in Vienna, the Kaiser roll is said to be named in honor of Emperor Franz Josef in 1487. The chef who created Kaiser rolls stamped the emperor’s image onto the roll. This might sound like an odd way to pay tribute to an emperor, but when you think of how widespread the use of Kaiser rolls has become, you can’t deny the fact that the word Kaiser has become part of our popular culture more than five centuries later.
6. Caesar salad
Contrary to popular belief, the Caesar salad was not named after Julius Caesar. It was, however, named after its creator, chef Caesar Cardini, who invented it on the Fourth of July, 1924, when his San Diego restaurant was low on food and he had to make do with what he had on hand. The salad began appearing on California menus in the 1940s. The original Caesar Salad consisted of whole romaine lettuce leaves, coddled eggs, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and Italian olive oil, with no anchovies. The Cardinis trademarked the Caesar salad name in 1948.
7. Beef Wellington
Beef Wellington is thought to be named after the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. It is said that chefs could put anything under pastry and he would eat it, no questions asked. Hence, Beef Wellington was born. Beef tenderloin is coated with pate, wrapped in puff pastry, and baked. Although it might not sound appetizing, this was a preferred dinner party dish in the 1960s, as it seemed rich, expensive, and time-consuming to prepare.
8. Eggs Benedict
There are a few stories floating around on how Eggs Benedict got their name. The most popular tale describes how the dish was named after a retired Wall Street broker, Lemuel Benedict, who went into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 looking for a hangover cure. He ordered buttered toast, poached eggs, bacon, and hollandaise sauce. According to this story, the chef liked the dish so much he added it to the menu, replacing toast and bacon with English muffins.
9. Cobb salad
This delicious chopped salad was invented by the owner of the Hollywood Brown Derby, Robert H. Cobb, who was asked in 1937 to create a late-night snack for Sid Grauman of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The salad, which combined lettuce, tomato, bacon, chicken breast, egg, avocado, and bleu cheese, became a hit and was added to the menu of the Brown Derby and the Drake Hotel. Another story told by Cobb’s widow, however, said that Cobb had some dental work done and was in pain, so he asked his chef to prepare something easy for him to eat. The chef prepared the finely-chopped salad, and Cobb liked it so much he added it to the restaurant’s menu. Whichever story you believe, it doesn’t change the tastiness of this salad.
10. Salisbury Steak
Dr. James H. Salisbury created this dinner concoction that has become a staple in TV dinners and school cafeterias. Get this — Salisbury believed that fruits and vegetables were bad things for people to eat, and that they caused heart disease, mental illness, and a host of other maladies. Salisbury created Salisbury Steak in 1897 to convince people to eat more meat. Consisting of minced hamburger beef shaped to look like a steak, Salisbury Steak is usually served with gravy. Guess this might account for the increase in cases of heart disease in the 1900s?