Ever wonder how the Po-boy came about? Bennie and Clovis Martin, natives of Raceland, Louisiana, created the Po-boy in 1922 in a shop across from the french market at the corner of Ursuline and North Peters. When the brothers first arrived in New Orleans, they found work as street car conductors and became loyal members of the street car union, division 194. They worked as conductors for a while, then opened their restaurant.
Shortly after introducing their new sandwich, made with John Gendusa’s 32-inch tube-like french loaf, the street-car union went on strike. The strike lasted for months and the Martins vowed to feed free of charge any striking worker who entered the premises. When a union member came around, Bennie would yell to Clovis, “Here comes another poor boy!”
Poor Boy in New Orleans
Vernacular translated to “Po-boy” despite the efforts of the Martin brothers. Mr. Bennie and Clovis, as they were called by their customers, were quite emphatic about dubbing their creation the “poor boy” and proclaimed themselves “originators of the poor-boy sandwiches.”