Arnold Palmers and Other Popular Foods and Drinks Named After Real People

Most people know about the Arnold Palmer. It’s the iced tea-lemonade beverage named after one of the most beloved professional golfers of all time. And then, we got to thinking about whether there were any others like it — other items that also carry a famous name. The answer, of course, is yes.

Eager to find out whether any of your favorite fare made the list? Stick with us as we run down a list of 15 other foods and drinks named after real people.

1. Sandwich

sandwich with lots of veggies

It was named after the Earl of Sandwich. | OksanaKiian/iStock/Getty Images

Did one man alone invent the entire concept of the sandwich? No, but the popular lunchtime staple did get its name thanks to one individual, John Montagu. Montagu was the 4th Earl of Sandwich, and apparently, he had a bit of a gambling problem.

As the story goes, Montagu had spent hours upon hours posted up at the tables. So much time, in fact, that he didn’t have time to spare for a full meal. One day, he was seen eating a piece of meat in between two slices of bread, and thus, the term “sandwich” was born.

Next: Let’s see where one of our favorite sandwiches, in particular, got its start.

2. Reuben sandwich

Reuben sandwich

This sandwich also was named after a gambler. | CLFortin/iStock/Getty Images

While we’re on the subject, we thought we’d throw in an example of a specific kind of sandwich — a sandwich whose origin, in fact, isn’t all too different from that of the sandwich in general. This sandwich, too, was named after a hungry gambler.

According to Food Network Canada, “Reuben Kolakofsky made this hot sandwich of corned beef, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and sauerkraut for a poker group that got together in a hotel restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska.” Apparently, gamblers love their easy-to-eat sandwiches.

Next: Everyone loves this classic.

3. Margherita pizza

It got its name from a queen. | iStock/Getty Images

Tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. It’s a simple pizza that everyone loves. And it turns out, we have one powerful woman to thank for it. When Queen Margherita of Savoy visited Naples, Italy in 1889, chef Raffaele Esposito and his wife crafted three pizzas for the queen. Her favorite was the one that had all the colors of the Italian flag on it, and with that, the Margherita pizza was born.

Next: This famous dessert was born in a very famous city.

4. Bananas Foster

Bunch of Bananas

The dish was named after its creator’s friend. | iStock/Getty Images

In the 1950s, New Orleans had quite the surplus of bananas, which would eventually turn out to be great news for anyone with a sweet tooth. It’s because of that surplus that the now-famous bananas-and-vanilla-ice-cream dessert is a thing.

Owen Brennan, owner of Brennan’s restaurant, tasked his sister, Ella, and Chef Paul Blangé to create a new dessert using bananas. The end product was the Bananas Foster we know and love today, which Brennan named after his friend, Richard Foster.

Next: This dish didn’t come from where you’d think.

5. German chocolate cake

Homemade Gourmet German Chocolate Cake with almonds and coconut

The dessert actually got its name from a person, not the country. | bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

We can see how this one may be misleading. But no, German chocolate cake was not, in fact, named after the country. The decadent dessert was actually named after an American baker, Sam German, as he was the inventor of the dark baking chocolate used in the recipe.

Next: A strict minister was behind this item.

6. Graham crackers

smores with marshmallow, graham crackers, strawberry and chocolate sauce

The crackers got their name from a minister. | iStock.com/happy_lark

While everyone knows what graham crackers are, the origin of the boring-yet-popular item may surprise you. Graham crackers were named after Sylvester Graham, a Presbyterian minister who lived during the 19th century. He followed a puritan lifestyle, and basically believed that everything was evil. Because of that, he stuck to a vegetarian diet and other strict dietary rules.

Next: This fan favorite hasn’t been around as long as we thought.

7. Nachos

Loaded Beef and Cheese Nachos

Nachos got their name from a savvy chef. | bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

We can’t even imagine a world without nachos. And thanks to one man, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, we don’t have to. In 1943, Anaya was working at a restaurant in a small Mexican city when a group of U.S. military wives (whose husbands were stationed at a nearby U.S. military base in Texas) walked in.

The kitchen was closing, but Anaya had an idea, and was nice enough to whip something up. According to Time, “He sliced and fried some tortilla chips, covered them with shredded cheddar and sliced jalapeños, and put the concoction in the oven for a couple of minutes.” And voila, now we have nachos.

Next: This well-known item can be found on just about every restaurant menu today.

8. Caesar salad

Caesar salad with homemade bacon.

Caesar salad isn’t named after the Roman emperor. | iStock.com/SQUAMISH

Despite popular belief, the Caesar salad was not named after the famous Roman emperor. Turns out, this classic concoction is named after a lesser known individual. Caesar Cardini was an Italian immigrant who owned a restaurant in Tijuana when he invented the dish. On July 4, 1924, a rush of customers cleared out the kitchen, and Cardini threw together the ingredients that are now known to make up a Caesar salad.

Next: Another famous salad is up next. 

9. Cobb salad

close up of cobb salad in white plate

The salad got its name from a hungry restaurateur. | iStock/Getty Images

Much like the origin of Caesar salad, the Cobb salad was thrown together in a pinch, and born out of necessity, as well. Back in 1937, the owner of the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood found himself working late at night, and boy, was he hungry.

A famished Bob Cobb was rummaging through the kitchen for something to eat. His findings included mixed greens, roast chicken, hard-boiled eggs, avocados, tomatoes, cheese, and crispy bacon. And with that, the Cobb salad has been around ever since.

Next: This dish is a go-to when ordering in.

10. General Tso’s chicken

General Tso's Chicken

It actually was named after a general. | iStock/Getty Images

Not too surprisingly, this Chinese-food favorite was named after a general. But you probably already knew that. According to Insider, the fried chicken dish “is named after the brave 19th century general Tso Tsung-t’ang.” Bet you didn’t know that, did you?

Next: Think you know about every type of Italian food? Think again.

11. Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo garnished with chopped parsley

It got its name from an Italian chef. | iStock.com/lauraag

Nothing screams hearty Italian food than a big bowl of fettuccine Alfredo. But why is “Alfredo” always capitalized? Well, it’s not just the name of a dish, it’s the name of a person. Turns out, fettuccine Alfredo was named after an Italian chef, Alfredo di Lelio, in the early 20th century.

The chef created the dish for his pregnant wife, and later popularized it at his Roman restaurant. And we’re oh-so-glad he did.

Next: A famous salad from a famous hotel.

12. Waldorf salad

Waldorf salad with greens, apples, and walnuts

It was named after the famous hotel. | iStock/Getty Images

There’s no debate as to where this salad got its start. After all, the salad does bear the same name as one of the most famous hotels in the world. In 1896, Oscar Tschirky, the famous maître d’ at New York’s Waldorf Hotel (before the Waldorf Astoria Hotel was established in 1897), developed the recipe for the now-famous Waldorf salad.  

Although the recipe may not be the same as it was when it was first invented, it’s still a wildly popular item on menus around the world. “We’ve tweaked it over the years: today, we use celery root instead of celery, a truffle vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise, and we garnish it with grapes, baby arugula and candied walnuts,” says David Garcelon, Executive chef at the Waldorf Astoria New York. “But it’s the same basic dish, and we still serve more than 20,000 of those salads each year.”

Next: Another restaurant favorite that originated at the hotel

13. Eggs Benedict

Poached eggs benedict brunch

The dish got its name from a hungover man. | iStock.com/SoLeaux

Yet another Waldorf Hotel creation, Eggs Benedict was the original brainchild of a hungover hotel guest. His name was Lemuel Benedict, and he was suffering from a bad hangover in 1894. When Benedict ordered up a plate of poached eggs, toast, crispy bacon, and hollandaise, Tschirky took note.

Tschirky added the dish to the menu, swapping out the bacon for ham, and the toast for an English muffin.

Next: This is the ultimate mocktail for kids.

14. Shirley Temple

a Shirley Temple and cupcakes

The child actress lent her name to the drink. | bonchan/iStock/Getty Images

There’s no kid in the world who wouldn’t love a Shirley Temple, primarily because that’s for exactly whom the drink was made — a kid. This ginger ale-grenadine-maraschino cherries mocktail was originally concocted for the curly-haired child actress who took Hollywood by storm in the 1930s.

While there may be a debate over which restaurant actually invented the drink, the story is the same. The young actress was out celebrating her birthday when a bartender came up with the kid-friendly cocktail. And kids around the world now have Shirley Temple to thank.

Next: A different take on the Arnold Palmer to round out the list

15. John Daly

lemon alcoholic beverage

It’s another drink named for a famous golfer. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Named after another pro golfer, this drink is the adult version of an Arnold Palmer. More specifically, a John Daly is iced tea, lemonade, and vodka. Furthermore, the drink earned its name thanks to the pro golfer, John Daly, who had an alcohol problem.

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