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How the Po' Boy Sandwich Got Its Name

The Po' Boy is often misunderstood. Many people mistakenly believe its name has do with feeding poor children. Here's the low down:

“On July 1, 1929, the Amalgamated Association of Electric Street Railway Employees, Division 194, went on strike to protect their union and job security against New Orleans Public Service, Inc.,” says culinary historian Elizabeth Pearce. “The streetcar operators were supported by many, including restaurant owners and former streetcar operators Benny and Clovis Martin, who provided food for hungry workers.

The brothers stated, “Our meal is free to any members of Division 194…We are with you until hell freezes, and when it does, we will furnish blankets to keep you warm.” The free meal became a free sandwich as the months wore on, and longer, more uniformly shaped loaves with square ends were specially developed by the John Gendusa Bakery.

“Whenever the brothers saw one of the striking men coming, they would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’ The name stuck,” Pearce says.

To find out about Pearce's cocktail and culinary walking tours of the French Quarter, go to

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