These sandwiches are known by various names depending on where you live in this country. Some of those names
include: Submarine, Heros, Hoagie, Grinder, Po' Boy, Rocket, Torpedo, Dagwood, Hero,
Zepplin, and Italian Sandwich.
These are king-sized sandwich on a loaf of bread
approximately 12 inches long and 3 inches wide, filled with various cold cuts and many
It is a
multi-layered sandwich with a variety of fillings. Used to denote a sandwich put together
so as to attain such a tremendous size and infinite variety of contents as to stun the
imagination, sight, and stomach of all but the original maker.
A term that originated in the comic strips in the 1930s after a comic strip character
named Dagwood Bumstead. According to the creator of the comic, Murat Bernard
Chic Young (1901-1973), the only thing that Dagwood could prepare in the
kitchen was a mountainous pile of dissimilar leftovers precariously arranged between two
slices of bread. Dagwood became know for his huge sandwiches he created on evening forays
to the refrigerator.
Hoagies are built-to-order sandwiches filled with meat and cheese, as well as lettuce,
tomatoes, and onions, topped off with a dash of oregano-vinegar dressing on an Italian
roll. A true Italian Hoagie is made with Italian ham, prosciutto, salami, and provolone
cheese, along with all the works. It was declared the Official Sandwich of
Philadelphia in 1992.
The Hoagie was originally created in Philadelphia. There are a number
of different versions to how the Hoagie got its name, but no matter what version is right
(historians cannot seem to agree on the correct version), all agree that it started in
Philadelphia or the towns' suburbs.
(1) The most
widely accepted story centers on an area of Philadelphia known as Hog Island, which was
home to a shipyard during World War I (1914-1918). The Italian immigrants working there
would bring giant sandwiches made with cold cuts, spices, oil, lettuce, tomatoes, onions,
and peppers for their lunches. These workers were nicknamed hoggies. Over the
years, the name was attached to the sandwiches, but under a different spelling.
(2) Another version on this story says that workers at Hog Island did
bring this type of sandwich for lunch, but it was never called a hoagie. The story goes,
that one day an Irish worker, who everyday carried an American cheese sandwich, looked
enviously at his co-workers lunches and said; If
you wife will make me one of those things, Ill buy it from you.
The man went home and said to his wife Tomorrow, make two sandwiches, one for me and
one for Hogan, his co-workers name. So everyone started calling the sandwich
hogans, which eventually go shorten to hoagie.
(3) In 1925,
Augustine DiCostanza and his wife, Catherine, opened their grocery store called A.
DiCostanza's grocery store in Chester, Pennsylvania. According the family lore, the
grocery store stayed open well past midnight to accomodiate the gamblers who held card
games at the Palermo's Bar on the same street. According to Augie DiCostanze,
granddaughter of Augustine and Catherine:
"One summer afternoon back in 1925, one of the men who cut the game
decided to take a break and he walked into the store to get a pack of cigarettes. Mom
was cooking the the back kitchen and the aroma penetrated throughout the store. The aroma
apparently whet the man's appetite and he asked Mom if she would make him a sandwich.
pick out what kind of lunchmeat you want," she said. He looked into the
case and with an Italian hand waving gesture said: "Put everything you
have in the case on it." Mom took a long loaf of Vienna bread, sliced it
lengthwise and proceeded to put on all of the lunchmeat. . . . "What
are you cooking that smells so good?" the hungry gambler asked.
frying sweet and hot peppers," she replied and without asking she put a few
pieces of the pepper on the sandwich. He left and an hour later the place was filled with
hungry gamblers asking for a sandwich. Mom sold out of everything that day. It was the
beginning of a new creation, soon to become know as the Hoagie."
(4) The last story says that during the Depression
(1929-1939), out-of-work Philadelphian Al DePalma went to Hog Island near the naval
shipyards to find work. When he saw the workers on lunch bread eating their giant
sandwiches, his first thought was, "Those fellas look
like a bunch of hogs." Instead of applying for a job at the shipyard,
he opened a luncheonette that served these big sandwiches. He listed them on the menu as
hoggies named for the hogs he saw during that lunch hour.
During the late 1930s, DePalma joined forces with Buccellis Bakery and developed the
perfect hoagie roll (an eight-inch roll that became the standard for the modern-day
hoagie). By World War II during the 1940s, he turned the back room of his restaurant into
a hoagie factory to supply sandwiches to workers at the shipyard. DePalma became know as
The King of Hoggies. At some point after World War II, the hoggie
became the hoagie. It is said that because his customers kept calling them
hoagies, he changed the name.
In a world of hoagies, heroes, grinders and
submarines, Portland, Maine is known as the birthplace of the Italian
sandwich. It is considered Maine’s signature sandwich. Simply known as “Italians” to the people living in Maine.
During the beginning of the 20th
century, Italians were emigrating to New England in large numbers to lay
paving stones on streets, extend railway lines, and work as longshoremen
on the waterfront. Giovanni Amato, an Italian immigrant, started
selling fresh baked rolls from a pushcart to his fellow Italian
immigrants working on the docks of Portland, Maine. At the workers'
request, Giovanni added a little meat, cheese, and fresh vegetables, and
the "Italian Sandwich" was born. Nobody knows the precise date of the
first Italian Sandwich, but Amato's sandwich historians say it had
happened by 1903. By the
1920s, Amato had opened a sandwich shop on India Street. In the 1950s,
people would line up outside the shop to get their Italians, and Amato's
would sell 5,000 sandwiches on Sundays.
Others may lay claim to inventing the Italian Sandwich, and there are
now dozens of imitators selling them. Today, almost every corner grocery
store in Southern Maine make their own version of this regional delight.
According to most Italian Sandwich aficionados, the best Italian's in
Maine are ALWAYS made in little Mom & Pop grocery stores. And the size
of the sandwich making area relative to the rest of the store is a very
good indication of the quality of product.
The present day sandwich doesn't include anything
remotely Italian. Unlike most sandwiches, the Italian doesn't have
lettuce. Neither does it have mayo or mustard. Instead, it's topped with
salt and pepper, and a squirt of oil. The freshly baked buns are soft,
not crunchy (the sour pickles and soft rolls are what makes the Italian
Sandwich unique), and filled with veggies aplenty. The meat is ham or
salami (boiled ham was introduced somewhere in the 1960’s and is as
popular today as the original with salami), and American cheese. The
sandwich is also a bit messy. The oil on the traditional Italian makes
the sandwich a challenge to eat.
Roger Kirk, a former resident of Portland, Maine, who currently resides
in Fremont, NH sent me information on the Italian Sandwich to include in
this history. According to Roger: The sandwich
is made with a one-foot-long soft roll (not the hard sub roll), sliced
2/3 of the way through lengthwise (like a hot dog roll) and pulled open
for ingredient insertion. Wrapped in white waxed paper, the locals
unwrap one end and eat directly from the wrap.
As it is made today, it has:
American cheese slices
Boiled ham slices (originally was salami)
Tomato Green pepper
Sour pickles (hand-sliced long and thin)
Black or Greek olive halves (typically 4 per sandwich)
Oil (mixed olive and vegetable oils)
Po' Boy (Poor-Boy) Sandwich
from Po' Boys Creole Cafe
in Gainsville, Fl.
Also know as Oyster Loaves.
Po' Boy is the generic name for the standard New Orleans sandwich made
with French bread. They are considered a New Orleans institution. Also
called poor boy. Always made with French bread, Po' boys can be filled
with fried oysters, shrimp, fish, soft-shelled crabs, crawfish, roast
beef and gravy, roast pork, meatballs, smoked sausage and more. They are
served either "dressed" with a full range of condiments (usually
mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomatoes) or "undressed" (plain). This sandwich
is purely American in its variety of sauces and condiments. It is
uniquely New Orleans because the oysters are local, as is the crisp and
predecessor was the
Peacemaker Sandwich (La Mediatrice), a loaf of French bread,
split and buttered and filled with fried oysters. The poetic
name derives from the fact that 19th-century husbands, coming in
late from a carouse or spree, would carry one home to cushion a
possible rough reception from the lady of the house.
The first recorded American recipe for Oyster Loaves was in Mrs. Mary
Randolph’s cookbook called The Virginia Housewife or Methodical
Cook. This cookbook is considered the first truly American cookbook and the first regional American cookbook:
- Take little round loaves, cut off the top, scrape out all
the crumbs, then out the oysters into a stew pan with the crumbs
that came out of the loaves, a little water, and a good lump of
butter; stew them together ten or fifteen minutes, then put in a
spoonful of good cream, fill your loaves, lay the bit of crust
carefully on again, set them in the oven to crisp. Three are
enough for a side dish.
1901 - The
Picayune's Creole Cook Book, 2nd edition, by the Picayune
newspaper, also contained a recipe for Oyster Loaf:
Oyster Loaf - La
Delicate French Loaves of Bread
2 Dozen Oyster to a Loaf
Tablespoon of Melted Butter
This is called the "famous peacemaker" in New Orleans. Every
husband who is detained down town, laughingly carried home an
oyster loaf, or Mediatrice, to make "peace" with his anxiously
waiting wife. Right justly is the Oyster Loaf called the
"Peace-maker," for, well made, it is enough to bring the smiles
to the face of the most disheartened wife.
Take delicate French loaves of bread and cup off, lengthwise,
the upper portion. Dip the crumbs out of the center of eaah
piece, leaving the sides and bottom like a square box. Brush
each corner of the box and the bottom with melted butter, and
place in a quick oven to brown. Fill with broiled or creamed
oysters. Cover with each other and serve.
According to New Orleans' historians, the Po' Boy sandwich was
invented by Clovis and Benjamin Martin, brothers and former streetcar
drivers, in 1929 at their Martin Brothers Coffee Stand and Restaurant on
St. Claude Avenue in the French Market.
It is said that this sandwich
extravaganza began during a local transit worker's strike. The streetcar
motormen and conductors strike begin on July 1,1929. Transit strikes
throughout the nation provoked emotional displays of public support, and
this 1929 strike ranks among the nation' most violent. Eighteen hundred
trolley men struck in New Orleans as a result of a union contract dispute.
During the strike/riot, two strikers were killed, five trolleys were burned
to the trucks, a car barn was dynamited, trackage was destroyed, and
switches were cemented.
The two brothers, Clovis and
Benjamin Martin, took pity on those "poor boys" and began offering
sandwiches made from leftovers to any workers who came to their restaurant's
back door at the end of the day. For five cents, a striker could buy a
sandwich filled with gravy and trimmings (end pieces from beef roasts) or
gravy and sliced potatoes.
According to the
Metropolitan News-Enterprise article by Roger M. Grace called Oysters
Stuffed in Toast: Po' Boy, Peacemaker, Oyster Loaf:
Mizell-Nelson, an assistant professor of English at Delgado Community
College has studied the 1929 streetcar strike extensively. His
documentary, 'Streetcar Stories,' includes a portion on the po-boy's
strike was particularly bitter, and Mizell-Nelson has a copy of a letter
that Martins wrote professing their allegiance to their former
colleagues. In a letter addressed to 'the striking carmen, Division
194,' the brothers wrote, 'We are with you till h--l freezes and when it
does, we will furnish blankets to keep you warm.'
provide free sandwiches to the carmen for the duration of the strike.
whenever a strikers would come by, one of the brothers would announce
the arrival of another 'poor boy,' hence the sandwich's name."
New Orleans Po-Boy
Preservation Festival's web site has a photo of the original letter sent
by the Martin brothers:
Soon the sandwich, which
quickly became known as the po' boy, was being filled with seafood, most
notably fried oysters and fried shrimp. In those distant days, shellfish was
abundant and cheap. The affluent joined the crowd because, at lunch or snack
time, a po' boy filled with oysters was quicker to consume and easier to
digest than one filled with roast beef.
- The first annual New Orleans Preservation Po-Boy Fest was
held in New Orleans on Sunday, November 18th. According to the promoters,
"After almost eight decades of being taken for
granted and having its history misrepresented, the poor boy sandwich takes
center stage." Descendants of poor boy originators Clovis and
Bennie Martin were in attendance to discuss their family history, copies of
old menus, photographs, and other memorabilia were on display.
Photo from WAMU 88.5 FM.
is a king-sized sandwich on an Italian loaf of bread approximately 12 inches
long an 3 inches wide, filled with boiled ham, hard salami, cheeses,
lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and sometimes flavored with garlic and oregano.
It is thought that the original concept of these sandwiches came from the
Italians who immigrated to New York in the late 1800s and brought with them
their favorite Italian Sandwich recipes.
- The family of Dominic Conti (1874-1954) claims he was the first to use the
name, submarine sandwich. Angela Zuccaro, granddaughter of Dominic, related
the following information:
"My grandfather came to
this country circa 1895 from Montella, Italy. Around 1910, he started
his grocery store, called Dominic Conti's Grocery Store, on Mill Street
in Paterson, New Jersey where he was selling the traditional Italian
sandwiches. His sandwiches were made from a recipe he brought with him
from Italy which consisted of a long crust roll, filled with cold cuts,
topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian
spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a layer of
cheese and ended with a layer was cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t
My mother often told me
about how my grandfather came to name his sandwich the Submarine. She
remembered the incident very well, as she was 16 years old at the time.
She related that when grandfather went to see the Holland I* in 1927,
the raised submarine hull that was put on display in Westside Park, he
said, “It looks like the sandwich I sell at my store.”
From that day on, he called his sandwich the “submarine.” People came
from miles around to buy one of my Grandfather’s subs."
* In 1927, the
first experimental 14-foot submarine, called Holland I, was
recovered and salvaged from the Passaic River. The Holland I was
built in 1878 by John Holland (1841-1914). The submarine hull was
scuttled in 1878 in the Upper Passaic River after an exhaustive
series of test and everything of value was removed. Holland
it was cheaper to start afresh rather than take her out of the water
and put her in storage. The hull is
currently on display at the Paterson Museum in Paterson, New Jersey.
- Many historians claim the first submarine sandwich was served in New
London, Connecticut in 1926. During World War II, when soldiers from the
nearby submarine base in Groton, ate them by the thousands.
Sandwiches, by Augie DiCostanza.
I'll Have What They're
Having - Legendary Local Cuisine, by Linda Stradley, published
ThreeForks, Guilford, Connecticut, 2002.
In search of . . . The
definition of Italian, by Andy King, The Portland Phoenix, October 2003.
New Orleans Preservation
Oysters Stuffed in Toast: Po'
Boy, Peacemaker, Oyster Loaf, by Roger M. Grace, Reminiscing Column,
Metropolitan News-Enterprise, Thursday, May 20, 2004.
Pursuing the Cascade Model,
by Professor William Labov, University of Pennsylvania, November 25, 2002.
Rare Bits - Unusual Origins
of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, published by Ohio
University Press, 1998.
Real Italian Food To Go, The
"Real Italian" Explained, Amato’s Sandwich Shop.
a former resident of Portland, Maine, who currently
resides in Fremont, NH.
Streetcar Stories, byMichael
Mizell-Nelson, Assistant Professor of History, University of New Orleans
Department of History.
The Foods of Philadelphia, by
The New Orleans Cookbook,
by Rima & Richard Collin, published by Alfred A. Knofp, 1975.
The Picayune's Creole Cook Book,
1901, The Picayune, New Orleans, LA.
Housewife or Methodical Cook, By Mrs. Mary Randolph, originally published in
1828; Stereotype Edition, with Amendments and Additions, Baltimore:
Published by Plaskitt & Cugle; Antique American Books, 1984.
Truth, or just a lot of
baloney? by Ralph Vigoda, Inquirer Staff Writer,