A gyro or gyros is a Greek dish made from meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie.
The dish is popular around the world, and many variations exist.
Grilling a vertical spit of stacked meat slices and cutting it off as it cooks was developed in Bursa by Turks in the 19th century Ottoman Empire, and called doner kebab.
Following World War II, doner kebab made with lamb was present in Athens, introduced by immigrants from Anatolia and the Middle East. A distinct Greek variation developed, often made with pork and served with tzatziki sauce, which later became known as gyros.
The gyro was first introduced to the American public by George Apostolou in 1965 at the Parkview Restaurant, Chicago, IL, which was owned by Apostolou and his cousin.
By 1970, gyros wrapped sandwiches were already a popular dish in Athens, as well as in Chicago and New York City. At that time, although vertical rotisseries were starting to be mass-produced in the US by Gyros Inc. of Chicago, the stacks of meat were still hand-made.
The great thing about gyros is they are quick to assemble and are appealing not only because of their reputation for being utterly delicious but also because they can be eaten on the go.
A gyro became one of the first global fast foods, although no such label could really describe it at the time because most shops were family run.
Michael Austin, CEO of Kronos Foods (the world’s largest gyro manufacturer), says that more than 300,000 gyros made by Kronos are eaten every day in the United States – which equals more than 100 million a year.
There are about a half dozen gyro manufacturers in the US.
The word “gyro” comes from the Greek word for “turn.” The same prefix is used in gyroscope — which is also an object spinning on a vertical axis.
Gyro is probably the most often mispronounced food name. Even its fans usually do not get the pronounced correctly – whether it is mispronounced as “jee-rohs,” “jai-rohs,” “gee-rohs,” The correct Greek pronunciation is “yee-rohs.” The varied names have geographical origins from different peoples’ languages.
Tzatziki is also known as tarator. Tarator was the name of a dish made of ground walnuts and vinegar in the medieval Ottoman Empire.
The word tzatziki appeared in English around the mid-20th century as a loanword from Modern Greek (τζατζίκι), which in turn comes from the Turkish word cacık, of obscure or unknown origin.
There is actually a National Gyro Day and it is September 1st.