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TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Gourmet Hoagie

It’s National Hoagie Day.

The sandwich, on a crusty, oblong roll (or a portion of a loaf of French or Italian bread), is piled high with Italian cold cuts or other lunch meats, provolone and perhaps another cheese. Garnishes typically include sweet and/or hot peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, oregano and a vinegar and olive oil dressing.

In Europe, this type of sandwich is known as a baguette or a ciabatta, after the type of bread used.

One of the prevailing explanations of the name “hoagie” is that it was introduced by Italian Americans working at the shipyard known as Hog Island, in southwest Philadelphia, during World War II. It became known as the “Hog Island sandwich,” which evolved to “hoagie.”

But the sandwich had earlier roots with New York Italians.

According to some food historians, the sandwich originated in the late 19th century to serve Italian laborers, who wanted the convenient lunch they had enjoyed in Italy.


A classic hoagie. Photo courtesy Dietz & Watson.

It became known as a hero sandwich. The name is credited to New York Herald Tribune food writer Clementine Paddleford, who wrote (in the 1930s) that “you needed to be a hero to finish the gigantic Italian sandwich.”

Depending on the region, the sandwich is also called a grinder, po’ boy, torpedo, zeppelin and no doubt, other names.


The popular meatball sub (or hoagie). Photo by Jill Chen | IST.


What About The Submarine Sandwich?

It’s another name for the same type of sandwich. The submarine, or sub, has at least two claims to invention; plausibly, it may have occurred in both places.

The first location is Boston at the beginning of World War I, at a local restaurant that served Navy servicemen stationed at the Charlestown Navy Yard. The bread was a specially baked baguette intended to resemble the hull of the submarines after which it was named.

Another claim credits Dominic Conti (1874–1954), an Italian immigrant who started Dominic Conti’s Grocery Store on Mill Street in Paterson, New Jersey in 1910. According to Wikipedia, he named the sandwich in 1918, after seeing a recovered submarine in the Paterson Museum Of History.

Conti’s granddaughter recounts that he was selling traditional Italian sandwiches made on long, crusty rolls, filled with cold cuts, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian herbs, spices, salt and pepper. The sandwich started with a layer of cheese and ended with a layer of cheese so the bread wouldn’t get soggy.

Popular variations evolved to include hot meats: the meatball hero/hoagie/submarine sandwich, eggplant parmigiana and chicken parmigiana. Basically, anything served on an oblong roll is a now called a hero/hoagie/sub/etc.

Celebrate With A Gourmet Hoagie

Build yourself a gourmet hoagie to celebrate National Hoagie Day. Use these upgrades to the classic Italian deli meats, or create your own recipe.

  • Bread: Crusty baguette or Italian loaf
  • Cold Cuts: Prosciutto and artisan salame, such as these lovelies from Creminelli Brothers: Barolo Salami With Barolo Red Wine, Tartufo Salami With Black Truffles and Wild Boar Salami
  • Cheese: Brie
  • Sweet & Hot Peppers: Grilled red and yellow peppers and/or pickled vegetables (dilly beans, asparagus, etc.)
  • Heat: Smoked or candied jalapeños
  • Lettuce: Arugula
  • Onions: Pickled onions and radishes (quick recipe)
  • Tomato: They’re out of season, so use halved grape tomatoes or sundried tomatoes in olive oil
  • Oil & Vinegar: Olive oil and balsamic vinegar (drizzle over the middle layer of ingredients)
  • Oregano: Oregano and thyme, plus fresh basil leaves, cilantro and parsley if you have them
  • Garnish: Castelvetrano olives, jalapeño-stuffed olives (we love Mezzetta’s line).
    We’re so hungry just thinking about it—we can’t wait until lunch.


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