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The sandwich’s story starts around the end of World War I with a Chicago street peddler named Anthony Ferreri. He would drive around the city making deliveries of cold sandwiches and other bakery items he made out of the basement of his home. Anthony sold them off the back of his truck at construction sites, hospitals, and other offices just like a modern-day food truck.
One day he attended a local Italian-American "peanut wedding”, and the course of Chicago culinary history was changed forever. Italian American immigrants did not have much money back in those days, so wedding receptions would be held in homes and church basements where they served cheap foods like peanuts (hence the name peanut wedding). At this particular wedding, the family had a beef roast where they were slicing it pretty thick by hand and making sandwiches out of it.
Ferrari, who was always a sandwich guy at heart, had an idea. He could slice that beef roast much thinner on his deli slicer and cook it in its juices, add in some secret spices, and you could feed twice as many people with a first-rate sandwich. Ferrari coined the thinner beef cut the “Beef Sandwich’ and would sell it with his other deliveries or at other Peanut Weddings he would cater across the city.
Anthony would later marry and have two children, a son named Albert (Al) and a daughter named Frances. They all grew up on the Near West Side of Chicago and were involved in the family food business. Al wound up getting locked up for a few years while the family still prepared food out of their home for the trucks. Once Al go