At the turn of the century, an Italian bakery created a round, hardcrusted bread that was baked in brick ovens and sold by street peddlers pushing their carts among produce stands crowding the open market in New Orleans' French Quarter. The vendors' shouts of "Muffulette! Caldo! Caldo!" which means "Muffuletta! hot! hot!." and the bread's distinctive aroma signaled its arrival.
Even before the bread cooled, it was sold to people eager to layer meats and cheeses on the fresh hot loaves. In the absence of traditional delicatessen dressings, a marinated olive salad was spread over the sandwich. The "Muffuletta" was born and, like so many other New Orleans creations, it became a regional favorite.