The War-Time Origins Of The Hoagie

In New England, they're called grinders. In New York, they're heroes. In Louisiana, they're po' boys while in the Philadelphia area, they're called hoagies. And just about all over they're called subs. A bunch of interesting names for a sandwich on long, thick bread. While regions and cities came up with their own names and versions of these sandwiches, according to Bon Appétit, it was usually Italian Americans creating them. They also originated in the early half of the 20th century, but how they first were created and named often is disputed. What all of these sandwiches have in common is they contain meats (usually cold cuts), cheese, other fillings, and condiments all on a baguette

The name sub (short for submarine) may have come from a submarine building area in Connecticut during World War II, per Bon Appétit, or it could have originated with a restaurant selling a "submarine sandwich" in Delaware in 1940. The origin of the hero sandwich is also disputed. Home Cook World traces the sandwich's origin back to Italian immigrant Giovanni Amato in 1902, while sandwich seller Tony Lukes says it was Clementine Paddleworth who created the sandwich and named it after large, armored cars. Yet another common theory is that it was believed only "heroes" could eat such a large sandwich, according to Bon Appétit. Not to be left behind with a hazy history is the hoagie, but what cannot be argued is its popularity in the greater Philadelphia area.

A storied history

First off, what constitutes a hoagie? Like its sandwich cousins, a hoagie contains different kinds of meats on baked baguette-style bread, but according to Taste Atlas, it also has oil and vinegar, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and provolone cheese. What sets the true hoagie apart from other sandwiches is it has oregano, basil, salt, and pepper sprinkled on it. What does it not have? Pickles and mayonnaise. The hoagie is such a staple of Philadelphia that it was named the city's official sandwich in 1992.

What's undisputed about the hoagie's history is that it was invented in Philadelphia. One theory, according to Britannica, was that around the time of World War I, Italian immigrant workers at Philly's Hog Island, a Navy yard, named the sandwich after their nickname, the "hoggies." Another common theory is the sandwich is named by a jazz musician who opened a sandwich shop, according to Bon Appétit. The legend goes that as the musician was watching some people at a sub sandwich, he commented that you "had to be a hog" to eat such a large sandwich. After he opened his restaurant, he called them hoggies, but that name changed eventually to hoagies.

While other theories exist, what is known is that the hoagie is loved by many sandwich-eaters, as well as its cousins the sub, the hero, and the grinder.