by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
You're not eating a hoagie. You're just jamming meats and cheeses in your mouth.
—Dee, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"
It's not just a sandwich, it's an experience. That's what a hoagie has been compared to, but it goes by many names depending what part of the country you're standing in. In New York it's a hero, in Boston its a spuckie but a grinder throughout the rest of New England. It's also been called a blimpie, zeppelin, torpedo, bomber, and Dagwood. Perhaps the most common, and hence the most generic tasting of the lot, is the sub. However, if you live in Philadelphia PA, its a hoagie, unless it's toasted—then its a grinder. Go figure.
How the term "hoagie" came about is a mystery. Several theories, however, have been put forward. The most popular seems to be that they were made by workers of a company named American International Shipbuilding who were building ships for the US Navy during World War I. The company was located on Hogg Island, which was adjacent to the now-extinct Philadelphia Navy Yard. The sandwiches made by workers on Hogg Island were supposedly called "Hogg Island Sandwiches" which were shortened to "Hoggies" and eventually "Hoagies."
A second theory suggests that the sandwich was created by street vendors in the early 1900s called "hokey-pokey men," who sold antipasto salad, meats, cookies and buns with a cut in them. And a third theory is that deli owners in the late 1800s would give away scraps of cheeses and meats in an Italian bread-roll known as a "hokie", because someone who was destitute was said to be "on the hoke." These two may be somewhat related and somehow "Hokies" became "Hoagies."
I lean toward one of these final two explanations because I have talked with people who have said the hoagie was actually invented in nearby Chester PA. I believe them, and so the name would have nothing to do with Hogg Island.
There are those who say it's the kind of meat that sets this kind of sandwich apart. Others say it's the kind of dressing that goes on them, but dressings can be mimicked, like the dressing below. However, I'm a firm believer it's the kind of roll that makes the difference. Philadelphia hoagies use bread made by a local bread company named Amoroso's. So, you can imitate the meat, and use the following recipe for a dressing, but if you don't have Amoroso Rolls, it's not going to taste the same.
4 oz olive oil
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a cruet and shake well.
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