So, Why Do We Call It A ‘Po-Boy’?
In Louisiana, we love our po-boy sandwiches. You can call it a po-boy or a poor boy. You can even spell it po' boy if you like. It doesn't matter, because a po-boy by any other name or spelling is still just as delicious. I've never given any thought as to why it's called a "po-boy" until today, so I did a little digging to see what I could find out.
According to nola.com, the po-boy was born in New Orleans in 1929. The po-boy was created during a transit strike in which 1,800 unionized streetcar drivers and motormen left their jobs and protested in the streets. Benny and Clovis Martin were streetcar drivers, but they also owned a New Orleans restaurant. They, along with the other workers who were on strike, spent months picketing in the streets. When you're on strike for that long, money starts to dry up, right?
The Martin brothers vowed they would feed the hungry, striking streetcar workers free of charge. According to poboyfest.com the brothers publicly stated "Our meal is free to any members of Division 194. We are with you till hell freezes, and when it does, we will furnish blankets to keep you warm."
They started making for the strikers a meat sandwich, on a new thinner and crispy bread, which was easier to slice longways into two equal pieces. They called this sandwich a "poor-boy" because the people they were serving them to didn't have any money.
Poboyfest.com says "Clovis died in 1955, and Martin Brother's St. Claude restaurant survived into the 1970s. By then the sandwich name had spread far beyond New Orleans".
There you go, that's just about everything you've ever wanted to know about po-boys. I know you're hungry now, so go on out and grab you one. In the spirit of the Martin brothers, go ahead and grab an extra one for someone else while you're at it.