National Pastrami Day Celebrates Pastrami’s Enduring Role in American Culture

WASHINGTON — January 14 marked National Pastrami Day, and to celebrate pastrami’s role in American culture, the North American Meat Institute and Beef Checkoff released new video recipes that showcase this succulent beef’s versatility.

Americans’ love of pastrami dates back to its arrival in the late 1800s, when it was first served in New York City by Lithuanian immigrant Sussman Volk, who was given the recipe by his Romanian friend in repayment of a favor.  By the 1920s and 30s, delis in New York City’s theater district helped further popularize pastrami, often serving stacks of the delicious meat on rye with a pickle on the side. The pastrami sandwich became closely linked with Jewish culture and celebration, and pastrami was commonly served at weddings and bar mitzvahs – again, only on rye.

The new video recipes show that today’s pastrami is not just for stacking on rye.  They feature innovative pastrami dishes for each meal, including pastrami, egg and cheese for breakfast; pastrami tacos for lunch; pastrami-inspired barbecue for dinner and a pastrami boosted burger.

“Our love of pastrami has been the subject of hit songs, famous movie scenes and global festivals,” said North American Meat Institute Vice President of Public Affairs Eric Mittenthal.  “Today, creative chefs have developed many unique ways to serve pastrami, but it doesn’t take a culinary degree to use it to boost the flavor of many dishes.”

In addition to the new videos, the Meat Institute and Beef Checkoff developed an online Guide to Pastrami complete with fun facts, trivia, interesting preparation ideas and a sampling of unique pastrami offerings from across the country. The guide also includes details on the differences between pastrami and corned beef and a variety of pastrami options that fit into different nutrition categories such as “low fat.”

The Meat Institute and Beef Checkoff will be highlighting all of these resources and more using #NationalPastramiDay on January 14.

About The Beef Checkoff: 
The Beef Checkoff Program ( was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. In states with qualified beef councils, states may retain up to 50 cents of the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. 

About the North American Meat Institute:
NAMI, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, is a national trade association that represents companies that process 95 percent of red meat and 70 percent of turkey products in the US and their suppliers throughout America.  In addition, NAMI conducts scientific research through its Foundation designed to help meat and poultry companies improve their plants and their products.  The Institute’s many meetings and educational seminars also provide excellent networking and information-sharing opportunities for members of the industry.  

“Internal links within this document are funded and maintained by the Beef Checkoff. All other outgoing links are to websites maintained by third parties.”