The Origin of the Cobb Salad

September 8, 2010

I recently learned that there is a restaurant in Albany, NY named “The Brown Derby.” Every time I think about this place, I think about an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Season 2 episode 3 “Trick or Treat,” in fact.

In this episode, Larry and Cheryl are dining with friends, one by the name of Cliff Cobb. Larry orders a Cobb Salad and makes so many substitutions that it insults Cliff, who claims that his grandfather invented the Cobb Salad at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Part of Larry’s arc in this episode is to get to the bottom of the origin of the Cobb Salad to prove Cliff wrong. He puts his assistant on the case. She seemingly only finds two sources on the internet.

According to her sources, in the 1930′s, the owner of The Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, Bob Cobb invented the salad by putting together the signature ingredients. In the continuity of the episode, Larry is filled with joy that he has debunked Cliff’s boast and even comes out with the line, “his grandfather didn’t invent the Cobb Salad; Bob Cobb did!”

To me (and many others to which I’ve shared this story), the name Bob Cobb sounds made up. Especially since it is the name of a character from Seinfeld (which you will remember is another Larry David project) history [don't believe me? Let me google it for you.]. I have had a bit of trouble believing the story on Curb Your Enthusiasm because of the irony in the name; I’m being completely honest. So I turned to twitter. I posed the same challenge to my friends that Larry did to his assistant: “find me the origin of the Cobb Salad.”

Lo and behold, in an additional irony reserved for Synecdoche, New York, my friends on twitter gave me only two online sources: mikeNY1974, harrisKJ, metalfrog, and billswallow all provided the wikipedia entry; SiobanK524, RozinCP, and billswallow found “The History of the Cobb Salad.”

Both of those sources corroborate the story about Bob Cobb inventing the salad as told on Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I’m taking this as “gospel” until I hear otherwise.

Back to my original point: how is it that such a legendary salad at such a legendary restaurant can be left off of the menu at the Albany, NY Brown Derby Restaurant?

If I ever eat there, I will ask this question to every staff member from the host/hostess to the chef, I kid you not…

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE CONTEST!

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