There’s really only one sandwich in New Orleans: the po’ boy. In this episode of How We Eat, Eater explores the root of this quintessential dish, which dates all the way back to the Great Depression.
It all began with Ben and Clovis Martin, former street car workers who owned their own bakery and market in the French Quarter. When local street car workers went on strike in 1929, the Martin brothers remembered their roots and offered to feed any underpaid workers. The sandwiches that they provided became known as po’ boys.
The sandwich was originally filled with “beef debris,” but over time it’s evolved to the point where there are multiple types — as long as they’re served on the classic Leidenheimer roll. Now po’ boys can be found with fried oysters and shrimp, and to many, the Vietnamese banh mi is considered “a Vietnamese po’ boy.”