NYT Crossword Reignites Debate Over Which Florida City Has Claim Over the Cuban Sandwich

Lead Photo: Photo by bhofack2 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Photo by bhofack2 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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It didn’t start with the New York Times‘ crossword puzzle. For quite some time, Miami and Tampa have argued over which city makes the best Cuban sandwich. But Sunday’s crossword puzzle has people quarreling all over again. With the clue “city famous for its Cuban sandwiches,” players were given five spaces to fill in their response. Given that both cities have five letters in their names, it was a tricky question. (Personally, I, as a Miamian of Cuban heritage, didn’t even think there was an option other than Miami.) It was also one that has brought on a lot of debate.

The Tampa Bay Times, for example, quickly decided to celebrate. “A ‘New York Times’ crossword clue weighed in on the Cuban sandwich war. Guess what? Tampa won.”

Cuban sandwiches, which food historians say came from Ybor City in Tampa, include shredded pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard. However, Tampa’s sandwich also includes salami and sometimes mayo. In 2012, the Tampa City Council called to rename the sandwich the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.”

There are a lot of arguments on each side, including some who say La Segunda Bakery in Tampa ships thousands of loaves of bread to Miami every day. But in Miami, the US city with the largest Cuban population, they say adding salami (inspired by Italians living in Tampa) means it’s not traditional.

The puzzle clue almost didn’t come to be. Editor Will Shortz said the clue was a last-minute addition. “The puzzle had already been edited, typeset, sent to the test solvers, and I found we had repeated a word in the grid,” he said, according to NPR. “It had both tin and tin foils, which is a no-no. So we rejiggered the upper left corner of the grid and Tampa appeared.”

Shortz has decided to stay out of this contentious debate, but people on social media have lots to say. Check out some of the arguments below.