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THE TIP

The History of the Cuban Sandwich

The Cuban Sandwich has become a popular sandwich around the world, with its combination of roast pork, ham, pickles, mustard, and cheese. Did you know, however, that the sandwich has a long history?

In the 1800s, variations of the classic Cuban sandwich were served to hungry cigar factory and sugar mill workers in Cuba. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, easy travel between Cuba and Florida brought thousands of Cuban immigrants to the U.S., along with the cigar industry. Cigar factories originally set up shop in Key West and later moved to the historic Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa. Cafes around the factories started serving the Cuban sandwich to feed the workers and became popular in other Cuban communities of Florida, including Miami.

Interestingly, because of the large Italian community in Tampa, Cuban sandwiches in that area often contain genoa salami – a nod to the blend of two cultures living next door to each other. As Cuban communities started popping up in other parts of the U.S. and around the world, the Cuban sandwich traveled with them and has become a popular favorite.