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The Stage Turns the Spotlight on a Non-Celebrity

October 16, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Gloria Horowitz thinks her husband Sheldon is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and that’s the way she wants him immortalized: with a sandwich named in his honor at the Stage Delicatessen.

The Stage, home of overstuffed sandwiches named for celebrities, is running a contest to select a common person for a spot on the menu alongside the ″Mike Tyson Triple Decker Knockout″ and the ″Donald Trump Power Special.″ And Mrs. Horowitz thinks Sheldon is a winner.

″Because my husband is renowned for his honesty, this sandwich should be open-faced, revealing all the beautiful truth of its contents,″ she writes.

The ingredients in a Sheldon Horowitz sandwich: Tongue (because Sheldon loves to talk), red bell peppers, half-sour pickles, lumpfish caviar, smoked turkey, green-leaf lettuce and mustard on pumpernickel bread.

The Tuckahoe couple will learn Thursday whether this Horowitz hoagie will triumph over more than 150 other entries in the contest sponsored by Stage co- owners Paul Zolenge and Louis Auerbach.

The idea for the contest, Zolenge said, stemmed from the restaurant’s traditional practice of taking Polaroid snapshots of celebrities who dined there. Other customers often wanted to have their pictures taken, and asked why they were not given the spotlight.

″The common customer really is more important than the stars,″ said Zolenge. ″If not for them, we wouldn’t be here.″

The winner is to appear on Stage menus in all three of the deli’s locations - the original, on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, as well as branches in Boston and Los Angeles. In addition, the winner will receive $100 and a dinner for four at the Stage Deli in New York.

The rules specified, ″No one who has made a significant contribution to the arts, theater, music, literature, pop culture or sports may enter. In other words, Woody Allen need not apply.″

Brett Eidman of Manhattan took the rules seriously.

″Be assured,″ he wrote, ″I have not made any significant contribution to the arts or to mankind. In fact, sometimes my uselessness even gets to me and I try to sleep it off.″

His sandwich would be corned beef on club, but the meat would be sliced so thin that it resembles ham, which befits him, Eidman says.

Who could be more appropriate, ask friends of the ″unfamous″ producer Wheeler Jackson, than the man ″who has done it all, or at least tried to?″

″A regular guy, just slugging it out, day by day doing the best he can,″ reads his description. Jackson, they say, appears in a recent New York Lottery commercial as a ″real person″ - sure testimony to his typicality.

Bubbles Helfman insists that she is even more typical. ″My problem,″ she says, ″is that I want the whole left side of the (Stage’s) menu.″

″So I end up tasting a little of each. From my plate. My husband’s plate. My boss’s plate. Tourists from South Dakotas’ plates. (I’m not proud. I’ll schnorr from anyone...),″ said Helfman about her sandwich sampling.

As a solution, Helfman proposes ″The Bubs,″ a platter comprising five mini-sandwiches to satisfy the palates of fickle eaters.

Three judges will select the winner, among them baseball players Gary Carter and Don Mattingly, both of whom have left their mark on the game and on the Stage Deli’s menu.

Evidently, there are ordinary sandwich fans everywhere. Entries came from throughout the metropolitan area, from several states and from both coasts.

Some were in prose, some in verse. One woman signed her rhyming recipe ″with apologies to Shakespeare.″ Another could think of no better wedding present for her fiance than to have a sandwich named for him.

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