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The History of Gyros, the Famous Greek Delicacy

History Gyros
Gyros became a famous dish following the arrival of Greek immigrants from Asia Minor in the 1920s. Credit: Greek Reporter

The history of gyros, Greece’s most popular fast food delicacy today, is lost in time.

Recently it was named among four Greek delicacies that have made it to the top 50 foods of the world for 2022 according to TasteAtlas, an experiential travel guide for traditional food.

The name literally means ”round” or “loop” and many theories exist about the history and its origins. Is it just a Greek variation of the globally known Turkish kebab? Or could it date back to ancient times, when the army of Alexander the Great was known to skewer and roast various cuts of meat on long swords over an open fire?

In truth, there is no way to verify any of the theories. Gyros, as we know them today, became a famous dish following the arrival of Greek immigrants from Asia Minor in the 1920s. Throughout the 20th century, local fast-food shops grew in popularity, not only in Athens but all over Greece and beyond its shores.

Inspired by the Turkish kebab, the Greeks who came from Anatolia created a more Greek-looking variation of it by using Greek meat and local ingredients.

Grecian Delight/Kronos foods offer several types of gyros

Grecian Delight/Kronos foods is creating the most delicious gyros in the US.

GDK Foods is the result of merging two Mediterranean food powerhouses: Grecian Delights (and the Opaa! brand) and Kronos. For Grecian Delight, it all started in 1974 by Chicago entrepreneur Peter Parthenis. His passion for food, innovation and vision brought the gyro sandwich from the Greek restaurants of Halsted Street in Chicago to the American consumer across the United States.

The company offers 6 different variations of the Greek delicacy.

Old WorldTM Gyros – Made in the Old World butcher tradition of hand-stacking whole-muscle meats that have been delicately seasoned and marinated, then vertically roasted to bring out the flavor and quality of the meat.

Athenian® – Highest quality meat with a blend of beef and lamb with select regional spices. Our premium raw cone contains no soy/ extenders for the best taste in traditional Gyros.

Chicago StyleTM – Made with beef and lamb and a special spice blend. The Chicago StyleTM Gyros was designed for authentic taste without sacrificing quality. Our Chicago StyleTM cone provides a great yield and taste.

All Beef – A special blend of 100% beef (no lamb) and our regional spices make this all-beef Gyro an excellent selection. Our All Beef raw meat provides the traditional Gyro taste without lamb meat.

Chicken – Made with a special blend of fully cooked chicken breast and thigh meat with tangy paprika and distinct Mediterranean spices. Our chicken Gyros provide an alternative Gyro protein for your menu.

Halal – Available in beef and lamb or chicken. Each product is made with certified Halal meat and designed for the needs of certain operators and consumers.

Recently a dish of mouth-watering Churrasco-Style Gyros Street Tacos has become a favorite in the US. 

The concept is as simple as it is ingenious. You just replace the usual pita bread wrap of gyros with tortillas to create Mexican tacos with a Greek gyro filling, similar to Churrasco.

The fresh Chimichurri sauce perfectly complements the spicy taste of the slow-cooked meat and is also loaded with good-for-you benefits, such as calcium, carotenes, iron, and vitamins A and C.

History of gyros and its variations

The spicy taste of the slow-cooked meat, combined with fresh tomatoes, onions and Greek yogurt, made this wrapped delicacy popular from the very first moment of its inception.

Mainly made with pork or beef, new variations have emerged with chicken, fish, seafood or even vegan alternatives for those who don’t eat meat.

Whatever the meat you choose, gyros are served wrapped in soft pita bread. They are usually stuffed with onions, fresh tomatoes, Greek fried potatoes, and tzatziki sauce, the famous condiment made with Greek yogurt, cucumbers and garlic.

Variations of gyros are countless throughout Greece and beyond.

Whatever version of them that you like, one thing is for sure: Gyros are a must-eat dish for anyone!

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