The Truth About How Kaiser Rolls Got Their Name

Some of the most iconic sandwiches of all time — including sloppy joes, tuna melts, beef on weck, hamburgers, and more — are often served on crusty, chewy, fluffy kaiser rolls. Also called Kaisersemmel, imperial rolls, or Vienna rolls, per Kiddle, these rolls make great sides when paired with savory soups and salads. The classic, personal-sized, round loaves have a history as rich as their dough. And the tale behind how kaiser rolls became known as such is one worth reciting.

Many of the foods and drinks we've come to know and love over the years were named after real people. From Beef Wellington to German chocolate cake to Little Debbie snack cakes to nachos, the namesakes of beloved dishes around the world pay homage to their inventors or those who popularized the fare. As you may have already guessed, kaiser rolls are also members of this commemorative club, as they were given their name in honor of a famed 18th-century Austrian emperor.

Kaiser rolls were allegedly named after Austria's Kaiser Franz Joseph I

Kaiser rolls have roots in Austria and have a basic recipe that typically calls for flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and butter, plus sesame seeds or poppy seeds for extra flavor and crunch. The tops of the rounded bread rolls are traditionally carved into five segments to resemble a star-shaped crown, per TasteAtlas. The buns are believed to have been named after Kaiser Franz Joseph I (1830-1916), who reportedly enjoyed feasting on them in the morning with some tea and cold meat.

So, who was Kaiser Franz Joseph I? According to Visiting Vienna, the acclaimed ruler, whose reign lasted nearly seven decades (1848 to 1916), was deemed a hero of the Eastern European Jewish population for granting Jews equal rights. Under his rule, Viennese arts and sciences were able to thrive more than they ever had. Franz Joseph I was also in power when many of Vienna's most famous sights, such as the Riesenrad Ferris wheel and the State Opera House, were established. Next time you sink your teeth into a kaiser roll-encrusted sandwich, you can think about this legendary sovereign.