20 Surprising Foods Named After Real People
Even wonder which Alfredo gave his name to the creamy pasta sauce? Who was Benedict and what did he have to do with eggs? A surprising number of foods are named after real people. Here are some of our favorite stories.
The name may remind you of Ancient Rome, but in fact, the Caesar who gets the credit here is Mr. Caesar Cardini, who invented this crunchy romaine salad in Tijuana, Mexico. While Caesar came up with virtually every element, his brother Alex added the finishing touch: the anchovy, which adds an elusive umami flavor. Here are a few more tips for how to take your Caesar salad over the top.
Reuben Kulakofsky is reputed to have invented this corned beef, sauerkraut and Thousand Island classic to satisfy poker players in the back room of the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha back in the 1920s. However, Reuben Deli in New York (first run by Arnold Reuben) also claims to have invented the sandwich. What’s undisputed is that the Reuben has been a hit ever since. Learn how to make a Reuben sandwich that outdoes the deli with our step-by-step guide.
Chef Alfredo di Lelio first developed his namesake pasta dish in Rome. (Get our recipe.) American silent film stars “discovered” the dish on their honeymoon and brought it back to the States. The American version paid tribute to Chef di Lelio in name but it added a heavy dose of cream that hadn’t been in the original dish. American butter and cheese simply didn’t possess the richness of that found in Italy.
The origins of Eggs Benedict definitely take root in Manhattan. The most likely sources are two seriously reputable restaurants: Delmonico’s Restaurant and the Waldorf Hotel. Here’s our favorite story: Mr. Lemuel Benedict dropped into the Waldorf for brunch while nursing a hangover. He ordered the components of the future classic brunch dish, and the chef immediately recognized the genius. Something else that’s genius? Try making easy hollandaise sauce (a signature Benedict ingredient) with help from a stick blender.
This delicious almond-based pastry filling is named for Muzio Frangipani, a perfumier in 1500s Paris. He invented an almond-scented perfume that became popular among fashionable Parisians. French chefs, transfixed by the aroma, were inspired to create an edible version of Frangipani’s famed fragrance.
This rich white sauce, perfect for making pasta dishes—like this Lasagna with White Sauce recipe—is one of France’s main “mother sauces.” Multiple chefs and two countries claim ownership of the sauce, and recipes date back to the 1600s. Regardless, the sauce’s namesake is powerful financier Marquise Louis de Béchamel, a member of King Louis XIV’s court, though it was likely named in his honor rather than invented by him.
Cherry Garcia Ice Cream
This Ben & Jerry’s staple is named after rock ‘n’ roll icon Jerry Garcia, the late lead singer and guitarist of the Grateful Dead. It originated when a Grateful Dead fan (or as you may know them, a “deadhead”) wrote down the idea for the recipe while in a psychedelic trance on a bulletin board inside a Ben & Jerry’s store. We miss these retired Ben & Jerry’s flavors.
This chewy candy bar was named for an industrious young lad with a sweet tooth. Henry would frequent the Williamson Candy Store in Chicago, offering labor for candy. The employees eventually took to calling out, “Oh Henry,” any time they needed some unpleasant work done. The least they could do was name this concoction of fudge, peanuts, caramel and chocolate after him. Make these candy bar copycat recipes at home.
This minced beef patty was named for Dr. James Salisbury, who preferred to call it “muscle pulp of beef.” Yum! Salisbury, who lived and researched in the late 1800s, advocated for an all-chopped-meat diet, especially for Civil War soldiers suffering from intestinal complaints. Fruits and vegetables were not recommended. Food science has evolved a bit since then, and Salisbury steak has evolved into a comfort food classic spiced up with mustard and horseradish.
Beloved Austrian cake Sachertorte remains one of the most famous chocolate cakes ever. It was named for Chef Franz Sacher, who invented the cake in 1832 when he was only 16 years old. He whipped up the recipe—layers of chocolate sponge interspersed with apricot jelly and topped with velvety chocolate frosting—for Prince Wenzel von Metternich, who was visiting Vienna.
In Old English, the term “charlyt” was used for any custard, typically made savory with meat. By the 1800s, a “charlotte” had evolved into a custard surrounded by delicate ladyfinger cookies. The Charlotte Russe was invented by a French chef who was working for the Russian Czar Alexander I. (In French, “russe” means Russian.) Here are more vintage desserts worth eating today.
This classic dish is named after the Duke of Wellington who famously defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, ending his historic reign in Europe. The Duke celebrated with this delicious victory meal of beef and mushrooms inside a savory pastry crust. Our version uses store-bought puff pastry for efficiency.
The Baby Ruth candy bar—that delicious confection of milk chocolate, peanuts and nougat—was invented in 1921, when New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth was at peak performance. By 1926, the Curtiss Candy Company was making one million dollars a month on sales of the bar. Meanwhile, Baby Ruth partnered up with a candy company himself, releasing “Ruth’s Home Run Candy.” Curtiss sued for copyright infringement, and the case made it all the way to federal court in 1931. Incredibly, Babe Ruth lost, as Curtiss claimed to have named their bar for the daughter of U.S. President Grover Cleveland. (Their story seems highly unlikely given that Baby Ruth was born 30 years before the candy bar, and sadly died at age 11.)
Who was sweeter than Shirley Temple? The 1930s child star earned her namesake drink while out to dinner with her parents. Jealous of the grown-ups’ old-fashioneds, Shirley pulled a few strings with the bartender and got them to mix this mocktail of ginger ale (or club soda) and grenadine.
A homey classic, chicken tetrazzini has surprisingly lofty name origins: world-famous opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini, “The Florentine Nightingale,” who wowed American audiences so much that chefs in New York and San Francisco both declared their love by creating a casserole for her.
Count Pavel Stroganoff gave his name to Beef Stroganoff, a slow cooker classic of beef and mushrooms in a creamy brown sauce on top of egg noodles. The historical record shows that the Stroganoff family was in charge of managing much of Siberia as far back as the 1300s, so this hearty meal probably helped them make it through the winters.
Oysters Rockefeller was invented at Antoine’s in New Orleans after the chef ran out of escargot and found local oysters to be a serendipitous stand-in. One customer exclaimed that they were as “rich as Rockefeller”. That may have been a slight exaggeration since economists have determined that Rockefeller was likely the richest person in modern history, even when accounting for inflation. But they’re still incredibly decadent!
Bananas Foster was first prepared at Brennan’s in New Orleans as a special dessert for a guest of honor, Richard Foster, head of the New Orleans Crime Commission. The exciting dish, sauteed in the kitchen and flamed table-side, delighted the Chairman and gained popularity in swanky restaurants around the country.
The sandwich is named for the fourth Earl of Sandwich, a devoted gambler who hated leaving the games table for meals. He ordered his butler to bring him meat wedged between slices of bread for a handheld meal that would let him continue to play. Intrigued, his rivals called for the butler to bring them, “the same as Sandwich!” The sandwich is now one of the most versatile foods ever.