How A Labor Strike Led To The Creation Of The Po' Boy Sandwich

Posted: Mar 01, 2022

For anyone who is a fan of Louisiana's creole and cajun cuisine, specifically New Orleans fare, a po' boy sandwich is a must-have. This is a submarine or hoagie-style sandwich served on a long, French-style roll. The protein on a po' boy is usually seafood, like battered and fried shrimp or oysters, but sometimes roast beef is used. Vegetable toppings like shredded lettuce, onion, pickles, and sliced tomatoes are often included but these can vary based on each restaurant's creative take or the customer's preference (via Southern Food.)

Finally, and possibly most important, a po' boy is typically finished off with a healthy amount of remoulade, the sauce that goes best with crab cakes. According to Serious Eats, remoulade is a French sauce made from a base of mayo and seasoned with pickles, capers, spices, and of course, Louisiana-style hot sauce. In Louisiana, remoulade goes with seafood like peanut butter goes with jelly, po' boy included. And what's more interesting is that this sandwich actually has a more exciting story of origin than you might think.

The po' boy was invented to feed streetcar strikers

In the summer of 1929, New Orleans streetcar contract negotiations weren't proving fruitful, so 1,100 workers from the carmen's union moved to strike (via New Orleans Historical.) There was a complete halt with no cars running for a few days and the streetcar company brought in strikebreakers to get the streetcars running again. Supporters of union members used violence in an attempt to stop the strikebreakers from operating the cars (via 64 Parishes). 

Many local businesses came out in support of the strikers, and one, Martin Brothers' French Market Restaurant and Coffee Stand, was run by two former streetcar conductors. Their letter read, "Our meal is free to any members of Division 194...We are with you till h–l freezes, and when it does, we will furnish blankets to keep you warm," (via Timoti's).

Making good on their promise, the Martin brothers convinced their bread supplier to make massive 40-inch long loaves to feed the workers, reports Timoti's. The Sandwich supplied by the brothers was a bit different than today's version, and typically included fried potatoes, gravy, and pieces of roast beef. 

By Nick Desimone
Source and Complete Article:
February 26th, 2022

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