Po' boy

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This article is about a traditional sandwich. For other uses, see Poor Boy (disambiguation).
Po' boy
Shrimp po' boy
Alternative names po-boy
po boy
poor boy
Place of origin United States
Region or state Louisiana, Southeast Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle
Main ingredients Multiple
Variations Multiple
Cookbook: Po' boy  Media: Po' boy

A po' boy (also po-boy, po boy, or poor boy) is a traditional submarine sandwich from Louisiana. It almost always consists of meat, which is usually roast beef, fried seafood, chicken, or ham. The meat is served on baguette-like New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy center.[1]


A roast beef po' boy

A key ingredient that differentiates po' boys from other submarine sandwiches is the bread.[1] Typically, the French bread comes in 10 oz (280 g), 32 in (81 cm) long "sticks". Standard sandwich sizes might be a "shorty", measuring 5–7.5 inches (13–19 cm); a quarter po'boy, 8 inches (20 cm); half po'boy, about 16 inches (41 cm); and a full po'boy, at about 32 inches (81 cm) long.[citation needed] The traditional versions are served hot and include fried shrimp and oysters. Soft shell crab, catfish, crawfish, Louisiana hot sausage, fried chicken breast, roast beef, and French fries are other common variations. The last two are served with gravy.[2]

A "dressed" po' boy has lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise; onions are optional. Fried seafood poboys are often dressed by default with melted butter and sliced pickle rounds. A Louisiana style hot sauce is optional. Non-seafood po' boys will also usually have mustard; the customer is expected to specify "hot" or "regular"—the former being a coarse-grained Creole mustard and the latter being American yellow mustard.[3]

The New Orleans roast beef po' boy is generally served hot with gravy and resembles a Chicago Italian beef sandwich in appearance and method of preparation, although the size, bread, and toppings differ. To make it, a cut of beef (usually chuck or shoulder) is typically simmered in beef stock with seasonings such as garlic, pepper, thyme, and bay for several hours.[3] The beef can be processed into "debris" by cutting it to shreds when done (folklore says that a po' boy roast is done when it "falls apart with a hard stare")[citation needed] and simmering the shredded beef in the pot for a longer time to absorb more of the juice and seasoning.

The sandwich was featured on the PBS special Sandwiches That You Will Like.

Origin of the term[edit]

In the late 1800s fried oyster sandwiches on French loaves were known in New Orleans and San Francisco as "oyster loaves", a term still in use. A sandwich containing both fried shrimp and fried oysters is often called a "peacemaker" or "La Mediatrice".[4]

There are countless stories as to the origin of the term "po' boy". A popular local theory claims that "po' boy", as specifically referring to a type of sandwich, was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin (originally from Raceland, Louisiana), former streetcar conductors.[5] In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, the Martin brothers served their former colleagues free sandwiches.[5] The Martins' restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as "poor boys", and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name.[5] In Louisiana dialect, this is naturally shortened to "po' boy."[5]

New Orleans[edit]

New Orleans is known for its grand restaurants (see Louisiana Creole cuisine), but more humble fare like the po' boy is very popular.[6] Po' boys may be made at home, sold pre-packaged in convenience stores, available at deli counters and most neighborhood restaurants.[6] One of the most basic New Orleans restaurants is the po' boy shop, and these shops often offer seafood platters, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and other basic Creole dishes.[6]

In 1896, George Leidenheimer founded his bakery, Leidenheimer Baking Company, on Dryades Street. In 1904, the bakery moved to Simon Bolívar Avenue where the family business still operates, and is one of the primary sources of po' boy bread.[1][3] Some former street car workers opened their own sandwich shop and used cut potatoes and roast beef gravy to make the first poor boy sandwich.[7] There is fierce competition between po' boy shops, and resident opinions of the best po' boy shop varies widely.[2][8]

Each year there is a festival in New Orleans dedicated to the po' boy, the Oak Street Po'Boy Festival.[9] 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.[9] The festival gives "best-of" awards, which gives the chefs an incentive to invent some of the most creative po' boys.[8]


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.

In New Orleans, "Vietnamese Po' boy" is another name for the bánh mì. This Vietnamese sandwich can be found in stores and restaurants throughout the city (for example at Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery), owing to the influence of Vietnamese immigrants, who brought with them Vietnamese-French bakeries.[10]

South Africans have a similar sandwich called a Gatsby which is a sandwich on a long roll, usually stuffed with French fries, lettuce, tomato and a meat (often chicken or Vienna sausages).

The Po Boy has taken on many variations over time. The ingredients that were primarily used were inexpensive. That is not the case today. In the 1960s and 1970s in Oklahoma, shrimp and oysters were not readily available. It was truly a poor boy sandwich. Bologna and American cheese were the primary ingredients with just a little ham and cotto salami to change the flavor of part of the sandwich.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "History". Leidenheimer.com. Leidenheimer. 
  2. ^ a b "Po-Boys". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  3. ^ a b c Roahen, Sara (2008). Gumbo Tales. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 115. 
  4. ^ Anderson, Brett (April 20, 2012). "Was the oyster loaf invented in (gasp!) San Francisco?". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  5. ^ a b c d John T. Edge, "Saving New Orleans Culture, One Sandwich at a Time", New York Times (2009/11/11).
  6. ^ a b c Rhinehart, Ed. "New Orleans Po'Boy Shop". Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Po-Boys". 
  8. ^ a b Garbarino, Steve. "The Crescent City's Greatest Po'boys". Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Oak Street Po'Boy Festival". Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Vietnamese Po-Boy". Retrieved 8 May 2012. 

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