Recently, out on the road I visited a sub shop and while eating, I began to think about the many ways people describe these sandwiches throughout different parts of the country. The submarine sandwich, amongst many other names, is a sandwich that is made from a long roll of Italian or French bread, split lengthwise in two pieces or opened in a V on one side, and filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegtables, seasonings and sauces.
There is no one distinct name as many U.S. regions have their own names for it.
The history of the sandwich dates back to the 19th to mid 20th centuries with origination beginning in several different Italian American communities in the Northeast United States. Portland, Maine claims to be the birthplace of the Italian sandwich. The popularity of the cuisine has grown from its origins in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts to most parts of the country. Many chain restaurants have made the sandwich now available in many parts of the world. Popular names in Europe are the baguette or chapatti, named after traditional breads baked in France and Italy.
The term “submarine” (sub) is widespread. One theory is that it originated in Boston, Mass. at the beginning of World War 1. The sub was a favorite of navy servicemen. The bread was formed and baked to resemble the hull of the submarines it was named after.
Another theory was that the submarine was brought to the U.S. by Dominic Conti (1847-1954), an Italian immigrant who came to NY in the early 1900′s. He is said to have named it after the recovered 1901 submarine “Fenian Ram” located in the Paterson Museum of New Jersey in 1918. His granddaughter has stated that her grandfather started a grocery store in Paterson, New Jersey and sold the traditional Italian Sandwiches to customers.
The name “hoagie” originated in the Philadelphia area. The local newspaper reported, in 1953, that Italians working at the World War 1 era shipyard in Philadelphia “Hog Island” introduced the sandwich. This was known as the “Hog Island Sandwich”, which was shortened to Hoggie, then to “hoagie”.
The Philadelphia Almanac and Citizen’s manual offers a different explanation. They claim the sandwich was created by twentieth century street vendors, known as “hokey-pokey men”.
Over the years, my truck driving career has offered me the opportunity to try the (sub) in many different parts of the country…(mostly on the east coast). Each area calls it something unique and the sandwich can be made with many variations depending on where you are. I grew up in Pennsylvania and the sub or hoagie was always a tasty sandwich for lunch or dinner. For me, wherever it came from and whatever they want to call it… I still enjoy a good sub sandwich. Anyone hungry?
I’ve listed the common names for the sub sandwich below:
Grinder_ Mid-West, New England, Riverside, California
Sub – Delaware
Hoagie – Philadelphia, South Jersey, Baltimore
Hero – Northern, New Jersey, New York
Wedge – Various areas of NY (Bronx & parts of Long Island)
Italian – Maine (Not necessarily an Italian sandwich)
Po’Boy – gulf Coast, particularly New Orleans area)
Continental Roll – (Australia)
Bomber – Upstate NY
Cosmo – North Central Pennsylvania
Torpedo – New York, New Jersey, other areas
Tunnel – Various New England areas
Till next time be safe,