Po' boy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Po' boy
A shrimp po' boy
Alternative namespo-boy
po boy
Place of originNew Orleans, Louisiana
Region or stateAmerican Deep South
Main ingredientsMultiple

A po' boy (also po-boy, po boy derived from the non-rhotic southern accents often heard in the region, or poor boy) is a sandwich originally from Louisiana. It traditionally consists of meat, which is usually roast beef, ham, or fried seafood such as shrimp, crawfish, fish, oysters, or crab. The meat is served in New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy center.


A wide selection of meat fills the "po' boy bread," [1] including roast beef, ham, fried shrimp,[2] fried crawfish,[2] fried catfish,[3] Louisiana hot sausage,[4] fried chicken, alligator, duck, boudin, and rabbit listed among possible ingredients.[5]

"Po' boy bread" is a local style of French bread traditionally made with less flour and more water than a traditional baguette, yielding a wetter dough that produces a lighter and fluffier bread that is less chewy. The recipe was developed in the 1700s in the Gulf South because the humid climate was not conducive to growing wheat, requiring wheat flour to be imported and thus less available.[6]

A "dressed" po' boy has shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced pickles, and mayonnaise.[7] Fried seafood po' boys can be dressed with melted butter and sliced pickle rounds. A Louisiana-style hot sauce is optional. Non-seafood po' boys will also often have Creole mustard.

Aside from meat and seafood, cheese has also been a recognized ingredient since the Great Depression,[9] the sandwich's inception occurring at the beginning of that period (year 1929).[8]

The fried oyster po'boys are also referred to by the distinct name "oyster loaf", and apparently have a different and older history.[10][11]

In a New Orleans "sloppy roast beef" po' boy, thick cuts are served with gravy,[12][13] or for the "CrockPot tender" type the beef is stewed down until melded with its sauce,[13] while in a third style, thinner slices are dipped in beef jus.[13] Garlic is an optional seasoning.[13] Roast beef po' boys are commonly offered with "debris" (pronounced IPA: ['deɪ bɹi]), which is bits of meat that fall during cooking and are rendered into a near-gravy.[14][15]


A roast beef po' boy

In the late 19th century, fried oyster sandwiches on French loaves were known in New Orleans as "oyster loaves", a term still in use. A sandwich containing both fried shrimp and fried oysters is often called a "peacemaker" or La Médiatrice.[11]

A popular local theory claims that the term "poor boy" (later "po' boy", etc.), specifically referring to a type of sandwich, was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benjamin ("Benny") and Clovis Martin, former streetcar conductors originally from Raceland, Louisiana.

The Martins established their eatery in 1921. In 1929 the bakery of John Gendusa first baked the bread used for this sandwich.[8][16] In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, the Martin brothers served their former colleagues free sandwiches.[16][17][18]

The Martins were interviewed on record regarding the origins of the sandwich. Benny Martin reminisced that they jokingly referred to an incoming diner as "another poor boy" if he turned out to be one of the strikers.[16] The Martin brothers were asked the question of whether the name was inspired by some French or French patois word such as pourboire, but they denied that was the case.[8]

One New Orleans historian finds the Martin claim suspicious for several reasons, starting with the fact that it was not described by the local press until 40 years after the strike, and that prior to 1969 the story from the Martin brothers themselves was that they had created the po' boy for farmers, dock workers and other "poor boys" who frequented their original location near the French Market. The Martin brothers wrote a letter, reprinted in local newspapers in 1929, promising to feed the streetcar workers, but it referenced "our meal" and made no mention of sandwiches.[19]

New Orleans[edit]

A fried shrimp po' boy at Middendorf's

New Orleans is known for its grand restaurants (see Louisiana Creole cuisine), but more humble fare like the po' boy is very popular.[20] Po' boys may be made at home, sold pre-packaged in convenience stores, available at deli counters and most neighborhood restaurants.[20] One of the most basic New Orleans restaurants is a po' boy shop, and these shops often offer seafood platters, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and other basic Creole dishes.[20]

The two primary sources of po'boy bread are the Leidenheimer Baking Company and Alois J. Binder.[21] There is fierce competition between po' boy shops, and resident opinions of the best po' boy shop varies widely.[22]

Each year there is a festival in New Orleans dedicated to the po' boy, the Oak Street Po'Boy Festival.[23] It is a one-day festival that features live music, arts, and food vendors with multiple types of po' boys. It is held in mid-November along a commercial strip of Oak Street in the city's Carrollton neighborhood.[23] The festival gives "best-of" awards, which gives the chefs an incentive to invent some of the most creative po' boys.[22]


Authentic versions of Louisiana-style po' boys can be found along the Gulf Coast, from Houston through the Florida Panhandle. The term "po' boy" has spread further and can be found in the South Atlantic States and in California, where it may instead refer to local variations on the submarine sandwich.[citation needed]

Houston has its own variety of the po' boy, with chowchow added to ham, salami and provolone cheese, created in the 1960s and popularized by Syrian and Lebanese restaurateurs.[24][25][26] Stephen Paulsen of the Houston Chronicle said the sandwich was "in the city’s food DNA, the Shipley Do-Nuts of sandwiches."[27] It was first created by Lebanese American Jalal Antone, owner of Antone's Import Company in the Fourth Ward, in 1962 after his brother-in-law warned him that area residents at the time would not be accustomed to Levantine cuisine and the business should focus on something more familiar.[24][27]

John Lomax of Houstonia described the 1970s and 1980s as the height of their popularity and that the growth of chain sandwich shops that operated across the United States, the introduction of banh mi, and the poor quality of similar sandwiches in gas stations resulted in a decrease in popularity for the variety.[24]

Vietnamese immigration to the Gulf South, including New Orleans, since the 1970s has led to some crossover between po' boys and bánh mì.[28]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Roahen (2008), p. 113.
  2. ^ a b Roahen (2008), p. 111.
  3. ^ Roahen (2008), pp. 109, 112.
  4. ^ Roahen (2008), p. 112.
  5. ^ Bailey, Shan. "2019 Oak Street Po-Boy Fest: Here's the mouth-watering po-boy menu". NOLA Weekend. New Orleans, Louisiana: WVUE-TV Fox 8. Archived from the original on April 15, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  6. ^ Carmichael, Emily (June 21, 2019). "The Banh Mi and the Poboy". County Roads. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  7. ^ Roahen (2008), p. 100.
  8. ^ a b c d Cohen, Hennig (February 1950). "The History of 'Poor Boy,' the New Orleans Bargain Sandwich". American Speech. 25 (1). Duke University Press: 67–69. doi:10.2307/454218. JSTOR 454218.
  9. ^ The Federal Writers Project, The New Orleans City Guide cited by Cohen.[8]
  10. ^ Roahen (2008), p. 106.
  11. ^ a b Anderson, Brett (April 20, 2012). "Was the oyster loaf invented in (gasp!) San Francisco?". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on September 4, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  12. ^ Widmer, Mary Lou (1989). New Orleans in the Thirties (2 ed.). Pelican Publishing Company. p. 49. ISBN 0882897365.
  13. ^ a b c d Roahen (2008), p. 114.
  14. ^ Anderson, Brett (February 15, 2012). "Mother's roast beef po-boy exhibits few of the qualities that make sandwich great". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, Louisiana. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  15. ^ Farley, David (July 4, 2017). "The Truth Behind New Orleans' Nebulous Sandwich". BBC Travel. London. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  16. ^ a b c Edge, John T. (November 11, 2009). "Saving New Orleans Culture, One Sandwich at a Time". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 24, 2016.
  17. ^ Mizell-Nelson, Michael. "1929 Streetcar Strike - Stop 4 of 9 in the Streetcars and their Historian Michael Mizell-Nelson tour". New Orleans Historical.
  18. ^ Mizell-Nelson, Michael. "Po-Boy Sandwich - Stop 6 of 7 in the French Quarter Street Food tour". New Orleans Historical. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  19. ^ Karst, James (February 5, 2017). "If po-boys were invented in 1929, how was Louis Armstrong eating them a decade earlier?". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  20. ^ a b c Rhinehart, Ed. "New Orleans Po'Boy Shop". Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  21. ^ Roahen (2008), p. 115.
  22. ^ a b Garbarino, Steve (March 5, 2011). "The Crescent City's Greatest Po'boys". Wall Street Journal. p. D1. ProQuest 855034442.
  23. ^ a b "Oak Street Po'Boy Festival". Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  24. ^ a b c Lomax, John (2013-06-18). "The Rise And Fall Of The Houston Po' Boy". Houstonia. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  25. ^ Huynh, Dai (2002-10-04). "Digest: Antone's adds sauce to recipe for success". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  26. ^ Cook, Allison (2017-09-11). "Antone's Original Po' Boy, a taste of my Houston history". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  27. ^ a b Paulsen, Stephen (2018-10-08). "The strange saga of the Antone's po' boy". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  28. ^ Fertel, Rien (June 21, 2017). "How New Orleans Birthed A Vietnamese Po' Boy Movement". First We Feast. Retrieved April 5, 2021.


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