One of America’s Favorites – Submarine Sandwich

December 30, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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A submarine sandwich.

A submarine sandwich.

A submarine sandwich, also known as a sub, hoagie, hero, grinder, or one of many regional naming variations, is a sandwich that consists of a long roll of Italian or French bread, split width wise either into two pieces or opened in a “V” on one side, and filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables, seasonings, and sauces. The sandwich has no standardized name, and many U.S. regions have their own names for it; one study found 13 different names for the sandwich in the United States. The usage of the several terms varies regionally but not in any pattern, as they have been used variously by the people and enterprises who make and sell them. The terms submarine and sub are widespread and not assignable to any certain region, though many of the localized terms are clustered in the northeast United States, where most Italian Americans live.

 

 

The sandwich originated in several different Italian American communities in the Northeastern United States from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. Portland, Maine claims to be the birthplace of the “Italian sandwich” and it is considered Maine’s signature sandwich. The popularity of this Italian-American cuisine has grown from its origins in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts to most parts of the United States, Canada, and with the advent of chain restaurants, is now available in many parts of the world. In Europe, it would simply be known as a baguette, or a ciabatta, named after traditional breads long baked in France and Italy.

 

 

Sub sandwich

Sub sandwich

The use of the term “submarine” or “sub” (after the resemblance of the roll to the shape of a submarine) is widespread. One theory is that it originated in a restaurant in Scollay Square in Boston, Massachusetts at the beginning of World War I. The sandwich was created to entice the large numbers of navy servicemen stationed at the Charlestown Navy Yard. The bread was a smaller, specially baked baguette that resembled the hull of the submarines it was named after.
Another theory suggests the submarine was brought to the U.S. by Dominic Conti (1874–1954), an Italian immigrant who came to New York in the early 1900s. He is said to have named it after seeing the recovered 1901 submarine called Fenian Ram in the Paterson Museum of New Jersey in 1918. His granddaughter has stated the following: “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 herbs and spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a layer of cheese and ended with a layer of cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t get soggy).

 

 

The term hoagie originated in the Philadelphia area. The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reported, in 1953, that Italians working at the World War I–era shipyard in Philadelphia, known as Hog Island where emergency shipping was produced for the war effort, introduced the sandwich, by putting various meats, cheeses, and lettuce between two slices of bread. This became known as the “Hog Island” sandwich; shortened to “Hoggies”, then the “hoagie”.
The Philadelphia Almanac and Citizen’s Manual offers a different explanation, that the sandwich was created by early-twentieth-century street vendors called “hokey-pokey men”, who sold antipasto salad, meats and cookies. When Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta H.M.S. Pinafore opened in Philadelphia in 1879, bakeries produced a long loaf called the pinafore. Entrepreneurial “hokey-pokey men” sliced the loaf in half, stuffed it with antipasto salad, and sold the world’s first “hoagie”.
Another explanation is that the word “hoagie” arose in the late 19th to early 20th century, among the Italian community in South Philadelphia, when “on the hoke” was a slang used to describe a destitute person. Deli owners would give away scraps of cheeses and meats in an Italian bread-roll known as a “hokie”, but the Italian immigrants pronounced it “hoagie”.
Other less likely explanations involve “Hogan” (a nickname for Irish workers at the Hog Island shipyard), a reference to the pork or “hog” meat used in hoagies, “honky sandwich” (using a racial slur for white people seen eating them) or “hooky sandwich” (derived from “hookie” for truant kids seen eating them). Shortly after World War II, there were numerous varieties of the term in use throughout Philadelphia. By the 1940s, the spellings “hoagie” and, to a lesser extent, “hoagy” had come to dominate less used variations like “hoogie” and “hoggie”. By 1955, restaurants throughout the area were using the term “hoagie”, with many selling hoagies and subs or hoagies and pizza. Listings in Pittsburgh show hoagies arriving in 1961 and becoming widespread in that city by 1966.
Former Philadelphia mayor (and later Pennsylvania governor) Ed Rendell declared the hoagie the “Official Sandwich of Philadelphia”. However, there are claims that the hoagie was actually a product of nearby Chester, Pennsylvania. DiCostanza’s in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania claims that the mother of DiConstanza’s owner originated the hoagie in 1925 in Chester. DiCostanza relates the story that a customer came into the family deli and through an exchange matching the customer’s requests and the deli’s offerings, the hoagie was created.
A local Philadelphia variation on the hoagie is the zep made in Norristown, Pennsylvania. It is a variation on the traditional hoagie, with no lettuce and only one meat. It is made on a round roll, with provolone cheese covering meat, chunks of raw onion, and slabs of tomato. It is dressed with oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil, and hot pepper relish.

 

The New York term hero is first attested in 1937. The name is sometimes credited to the New York Herald Tribune food writer Clementine Paddleford in the 1930s, but there is no good evidence for this. It is also sometimes claimed that it is related to the gyro, but this is unlikely as the gyro was unknown in the United States until the 1960s, according to some sources.
“Hero” (plural usually heros remains the prevailing New York City term for most sandwiches on an oblong roll with a generally Italian flavor, in addition to the original described above. Pizzeria menus often include eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana, and meatball heros, each served with sauce.

 

 

 

Roast beef grinder

Roast beef grinder

Grinder, a common term in New England, its origin has several possibilities. One theory has the name coming from Italian-American slang for a dock worker, among whom the sandwich was popular Others say it was called a grinder because it took a lot of chewing to eat the hard crust of the bread used.
In western Massachusetts a grinder is specifically a toasted sub, for example, the sub is toasted in a pizza oven. In Pennsylvania and Delaware, the term grinder simply refers to a submarine sandwich that has been heated in any fashion.

From its origins with the Italian American labor force in the Northeastern United States, the sub began to show up on menus of local pizzerias. As time went on and popularity grew, small restaurants, called Hoagie shops and Sub shops, that specialized in the sandwich began to open.
After World War II, Italian food grew in popularity in the US and started to become assimilated. This brought the use of other meats to the sandwich including turkey, roast beef, American and Swiss cheese, as well as spreads such as mayonnaise and mustard.

 

 
Pizzerias may have been among the first Italian-American eateries, but even at the turn of the [20th] century distinctions were clear-cut as to what constituted a true ristorante. To be merely a pizza-maker was to be at the bottom of the culinary and social scale; so many pizzeria owners began offering other dishes, including the hero sandwich (also, depending on the region of the United States, called a ‘wedge,’ a ‘hoagie,’ a ‘sub,’ or a ‘grinder’) made on a Italian loaf of bread with lots of salami, cheese, and peppers.
—John Mariani, America Eats Out, p. 66
By the late 20th century, due to the rise of large franchisee chain restaurants and fast food, the sandwich became available worldwide. Many outlets offer non-traditional ingredient combinations.
In the United States, many chain restaurants have arisen that specialize in subs including Capriotti’s, Submarina, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Charley’s Grilled Subs, Blimpie, Jimmy John’s, Lenny’s Sub Shop, Milio’s, Port of Subs, Eegee’s, Firehouse Subs, Penn Station, Planet Sub, Potbelly, Tubby’s, Schlotzsky’s, Which Wich and D’Angelo Sandwich Shops. Major international chains include Quiznos, Mr. Sub and the largest restaurant chain in the world, Subway. The sandwich is also usually available at supermarkets and convenience stores.

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