A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 18, 2007
Poor Boy Sandwich (Po’ Boy Sandwich)

The “poor boy” ("po’ boy") sandwich began in New Orleans, about 1929. It’s another regional sandwich name, such as sub (submarine), hero, hoagie, and grinder.  The “poor boy sandwich” quickly reached Texas in the early 1930s.

There is no “Texas Po’ Boy,” although at least two restaurants serve sandwiches by that name.

The long list of the names of sandwiches served on long rolls includes blimpie, bomber, Cuban (medianoche), Dagwood, garibaldi, gondola, grinder, hero, hoagie, Italian, jawbreaker, muffuletta, peacemaker (La Mediatrice), pilgrim, pistolette, rocket, skyscraper, spiedie, spucky (spuckie, spukie), submarine (sub), torpedo, torta (Mexican po’ boy), wedge and zeppelin (zep).

Branding Iron BBQ (W. Long Branch, NJ)
Texas “Po’ Boy”
both beef brisked & sausage: a serious sandwich!

Lone Star Texas Grill (Toronto)
A choice of Fajita steak or chicken, topped with grilled onions, bell peppers and Jack cheese.TEXAS PO’ BOY SANDWICH 9.99
A choice of Fajita Steak or chicken, topped with grilled onions, bell peppers and Jack cheese.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
poor boy, n.
orig. and chiefly U.S.
More fully poor boy sandwich. A kind of large sandwich; = PO’ BOY n.
1931 Soard’s New Orleans City Directory 1139/2 Poor Boy Sandwich Shop (Mrs Amelia Weidenbacher) 605 Dyades.
1938 Frederick (Maryland) Post 25 Aug. 4/4 A ‘poor boy’ is a sandwich but what a sandwich. It’s a whole loaf of bread halved lengthwise and piled with roast beef, lettuce and tomatoes. Costs a nickel.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
po’ boy, n.
More fully po’ boy sandwich. A type of sandwich, originating in New Orleans, consisting of a hollowed-out French loaf variously filled with oysters, prawns, meat and gravy, etc. Cf. POOR BOY n.
1932 New Orleans Classified Telephone Directory 108/2 Po Boi Sandwich Shoppe Inc.
1951 N.Y. Herald Tribune 4 July 7/8 The beginning of the Po’ Boy sandwich we credited to a sandwich shop in New Orleans.

10 April 1931, Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent, “Boys Go To New Orleans...,” pg. 29, col. 3:
“We bought poor-boy sandwiches for a dime and got two meals from each sandwich,” they said.

24 April 1931, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, pg. 29 classified ad:
BOY, 18 to 20, for restaurant work. Must be willing. Tony’s Poor Boy Sandwiches, 1131 St. Bernard Ave.

15 May 1931, The Daily Herald (Biloxi, MS), pg. 2, col. 2:
Sandwich Shop. 503 West Howard. Management C. B. Klein. Half-loaf Poor-Boy sandwiches of ham, cheese, roast pork or beef, 10c.

18 July 1931, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, pg, 23, col. 1 classified ad:
HAMBURGER, Poor Boy Sandwich Stand for sale on account of illness. 1641 Thalla St. Mrs. E. Munch.

12 November 1931, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, pg. 11:
Members will eat “poor boy” sandwiches instead of their usual luncheons.

21 January 1932, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 10, col. 8 ad:

9 April 1933, Boston (MA) Sunday Globe, “Bums His Way Through 27 States But Comes Home to Wait for Job” by The Wanderer, pg. 20, col. 4:
In New Orleans you get four dozen of bananas for 15 cents. They have what they call “poor boy sandwiches.” They chop up half a loaf of French bread and put beef between the slices, all for a dime.

17 July 1933, Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK), pg. 4, col. 2:
Poor Boy Sandwich shop, 1922 North Broadway;...

2 June 1934, Austin (TX) American, pg. 5, col. 4 ad:

1 July 1934, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 8, col.2:
NEW ORLEANS, June 30 (UP).—A man with a dime in New Orleans will not go hungry.

Here’s what he can buy:

Two eggs, two strips of bacon, grits, buttered toast and coffee. Or --

Wheat cakes, butter, sausage or bacon, coffee.

Then, there’s the poor boy sandwich, which sells in some places for five cents. It is composed of a half-loaf of French bread, sliced down the middle, about a foot and a quarter of bread, and garnished with ham, cheese, pickle, tomatoes and lettuce.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Sunday, March 18, 2007 • Permalink