Welcome to another edition of the Guide’s weekly dedication to all things food. As it just so happens, this week will be my birthday. And what makes a party more than the delicious food you serve in it. So I knew I needed to come up with an extra special way to celebrate my day. When I did research on food holidays, specifically ones associated with my birthday, one did leap off the page.
National Cream Filled Donut Day felt like a holiday I couldn’t pass up. Until I did. My problem with the holiday was not with the holiday itself. I love the idea. But I had already done a National Jelly Filled Donut Day and it felt too soon to be celebrating another Donut. Besides, how was I going to come up with another list of Donut shops that would top the list I already created? This left me to ponder.
So my crack research team scoured the food world’s underbelly to find a food holiday befitting my birthday. And after a desperate search that would take me to the far reaches of the internet, I landed on a brilliant solution. I would quit celebrating food holidays and become a Buddhist Monk that despised pleasure. Unfortunately, they refused to accept me when I refused to shave off my hair. I don’t think I look good bald, so what was I to do?
So I came back to the internet a broken and beaten man. I sat there on the ground in a heap in my room with a subway sandwich in one hand and a glass of diet coke in the other trying to eat away my sorrows when the sub magically floated away from my hand and into the air.
At first, I stared at the sub in amazement, wondering whether I should be talking to the sub. But after a few seconds the sub floated back down to the ground and so I ignored the sign. Maybe people were right and something was wrong with my diet soda. But I rejected that theory out of hand, being the diet coke addict that I am. And a minute later after another swig of diet soda, I saw the sub float into the sky again. I set down my diet coke.
This time it opened at one end and said, “Eat me, David. You know you want to.”
But as I am an obstinate human being who hates being told what to do, I stared at it and rejected the sub’s offer just before it floated back down to the floor. I had enough of being rejected by Buddhist monks and being manipulated by talking sandwiches so I decided a good night’s sleep was in order. Only this time, at 3:00 AM, the super sub woke again and started floating across my bedroom while a bright light shone. It woke me from my slumber as I hate lights being on while sleeping.
Mystical noises whispered in my ear, “Eat it. Eat a hoagie.”
And the sub, in turn, opened its “mouth” once again and demanded, “Eat me darn it! Eat a poor lowly sub.”
I was about to bury my head under my pillows and pray the floating sub would go away when I remembered something from my brief search in the hinterlands of the internet. Eat a hoagie just sounded too familiar. And then I remembered. September 14th is National Eat a Hoagie day in the United States. Problem solved! That’s what we would celebrate. So the Guide celebrates National Eat a Hoagie Day, September 14th.
In its most literal meaning, a hoagie simply refers to a submarine sandwich that someone might eat. This is a large loaf of bread stuffed with meats, cheeses, and veggies to the gills. As far as my first experience, I cannot tell you the first time I had a submarine sandwich. But I can tell you the first time I had a “hoagie.” I know this makes no sense, except for the understanding that hoagie specifically comes from a term developed by people in Philadelphia. It’s meaning I will get into when we delve into the illustrious history of the hoagie. So I didn’t really have the sandwich until I was in the confines of Philadelphia. Everyone told me that I needed to have one when I was there.
So when I was in the 8th grade for our Washington D.C. field trip and they told me we were going to be stopping off in Philadelphia, I knew I was going to have to try a hoagie. While I will leave my overall experience with Philadelphia for another time, I remember getting to the restaurant in Philly that had the hoagies available. So for my one and only time in Philadelphia getting a hoagie I ordered a beef, melted cheese, and onion hoagie. It was a delicious mess that I could barely keep inside my mouth instead of all over my clothing. Whether it was worth the price, I cannot even remember. I just remember fighting to keep it off my shirt. Eighth graders are not kind when it comes to food all over your clothing.
While that was my experience with the hoagie, the Guide believes in bringing to you the great fake history of all the foods for these food holidays. Nothing can be more important than getting to the “truth” behind these magnificent food inventions. And, as it’s my birthday coming up, I need to make sure to dig hard to find the truth behind these important issues which is why I search the provider of the greatest fake news ever: the internet. So the Guide now brings you the official fake news findings behind the invention of the hoagie.
The Fake History Of The Hoagie
Just as it was with the French Fry, the Hoagies listing of creators come far and wide. We couldn’t come to a definitive moment where the hoagie sprung forth from the world like we could with the Ice Cream Float. What we did find out was that it comes from Italian immigrants that came to the United States between the 19th and 20th Centuries. And its creation comes from various different places throughout the New England Area in Maine, New York, and ultimately Philadelphia.
Every region has a name for the creation of this large sandwich filled with meats, cheeses, and lettuce put on a roll. The term “submarine” sandwich comes from the Connecticut area where they compared the sandwich looks to those of submarines stationed there. Another hoagie term “hero” comes out of New York, where some believe it a mispronunciation of the gyro, which was a Greek sandwich.
The term “grinder” comes from the term for Boston dockworkers who would grind out long days and for whom they named the sandwich after. And finally, the “wedge” comes out of a specific county of New York. Westchester County believed it looked like meat stuffed between two wedges of bread. So they called it the wedge. Or it’s possible some Yonkers business owner got tired of calling it a sandwich and settled on wedge. Who knows?
But as we are celebrating the hoagie, we are here to explore the reasons for why the individual hoagie came into existence. And as such, we researched and delved into the depths of Pennsylvania history and lore to find out the reasons for the existence of the hoagie. Unfortunately, or if you really love these crazy histories, fortunately, we came up with three different reasons for how the hoagie came to be.
The first comes to us from Phil Hoggerson of Chesterbrook Pennsylvania who claims that the hoagie really stems from his ancestors. Back in the day, Philadelphia had a World War I shipyard nicknamed Hog Island. Whether that name came from Phil’s Italian ancestors is hotly under debate. Evidently, there were packages of meats, cheeses and produce being shipped off to Europe to replenish the war effort when a big crane accident carrying the boxes of food collided and crashed together on the port.
As they were picking up the mess, one Dave Hoggerson, of the Pennsylvania Hoggersons, started putting the meats and cheeses as well as the lettuce on the torn bread in order to pick the slop up more easily. Dave, not being too bright and definitely not a picky eater, developed quite a hunger after a long day working on the shipyard. He ended up taking a bite of the slop he was picking up in desperation, when he found it tasted so much better than he imagined.
He gave it to his brother Earl Hoggerson to taste. Earl stood even lower on the IQ totem pole than Dave, but he likewise loved the concoction. Eventually, the whole shipyard grew to like this sandwich and took to calling it hoggies and eventually hoagies, either because of the shipyard or the men who created the sandwich.
The second story comes to us from Jane Vendor from Scranton, Pennsylvania. She claims that it was her society of Vendors that operated in an around the Philadelphia area outside the baseball stadiums who would coin the term and the sandwich. She said that her ancestors were called the “hokey-pokey” men because of the song and dance routine they would do to encourage sales of the sandwiches outside the stadium. The Italian vendors would take to splitting open loaves of bread they had and stuffing them with antipasto salad and handing them out to the families entering the stadium.
They were originally called hokeys, until one son of the hokey vendor, Sam “hoagie” Vendor, told his Dad Richard that hokey was just too hokey for the name of the sandwich. Richard asked his boy, “Hoagie, what would you call the sandwich?” They looked at each other for a second when lightbulbs flashed over their heads at the same time. And so the Hoagie was born.
The third and final tale comes to us from David Hoke, a business operator from Oil Pennsylvania. He came from poor ancestors on his father’s side out of Philadelphia. He remembers his father telling him of the story where his great grandmother would make these sandwiches for all of the poor kids in the community because it was a cheap way to make a lunch for so many. All of the neighbors would come from miles around to get themselves a good lunch from Janey Hoke. They hit the spot after a long day of scrounging up whatever work they could find for themselves. They considered all of these poor citizens “on the hoke.” Whether they made up the name or it described the food they were eating from Miss Janey one can debate.
Eventually, they asked Janey what they should call this sandwich. To which she replied that they should call them Hokeys. Everyone thought that was a great idea. But the Italians in the neighborhood for some reason had a penchant for mispronouncing names during this time. They took to calling these sandwiches Hoagies instead. And so they name went from Hokey, celebrating its inventor, to Hoagie celebrating something. I do not know what that thing is though.
But we today celebrate this Hoagie, whoever may be responsible for it. Whether it be shipyards, vendors doing crazy dances, or a poor Irish Catholic woman wanting to help out the poor, the hoagie is something worth celebrating. And as such, on September 14th we celebrate National Eat a Hoagie Day. Or my birthday, whichever sounds better to you.
Top Five Hoagie Places In Southern California
As the Guide celebrates the Hoagie, and my birthday, we also are concerned about giving something back to the community. Despite loving an Alton Brown version of the hoagie, I just felt like it was too easy a thing to show his recipe for this marvelous submarine sandwich. So instead we wanted to find five local places that would tickle your taste buds when it came to this unique invention. So we scoured the landscape to bring you the Five Best Hoagie places in Southern California. See if you find one that you remember, and if you don’t definitely check some of these out near you.
5) Rubicon Deli – San Diego
With simple sandwiches like turkey or grilled cheese to the more complex delights like the Rubi Club or the Whales Veg, Rubicon serves up sandwiches for all taste buds. Located in three different venues throughout San Diego as well as one in Nevada, Rubicon tries corners the market when it comes to variety in all aspect of its sandwiches. Whether different breads, cheeses or meats, Rubicon’s selection is second to none in the San Diego area sandwich competition.
4) Subculture Extraordinary Sandwiches – Huntington Beach
If you are looking for some unique blends of meats and cheese you will find nothing like Subculture in Huntington Beach California. With their Dutch crunch bread and their special sauce to go with it, they make East Coast hoagies proud. From the delectable Godfather to the controversial Divorce is Final, you have to come by this little slice of sandwich heaven located in the heart of Orange County.
3) Cortina’s Italian Market – Anaheim and Orange
With meatballs in sandwiches the size of baseballs or delicious traditional Italian sandwich antipasto fare, Cortina’s has been serving up sandwich heaven since 1963. From Eggplant to Roast Beef and everything in between, they will tempt you to eat until you drop on the floor. I have a hard time choosing which of the sandwich fare I must have, which makes this a great place because it means I will keep coming back to find out new sandwich discoveries along the way. Check this place out when you get the chance.
2) Figueroa Philly Cheese Steak – Los Angeles
For those of you Philadelphia hoagie lovers out there, I knew that you would never be satisfied unless you could find a great Cheesesteak place here in Southern California. Well this is the one. Serving up this delectable sandwich since 2009, this place prides itself on authentic Philadelphia rolls and quality Rib Eye steak being the key ingredients to their sandwich masterpieces. Throw in a rich variety of cheeses and some sautéed onions and you have a little bit of Philadelphia heaven, all the way here in California.
1) The Little Jewel Of New Orleans Grocery And Deli – Los Angeles
I realize that this is not your father’s Hoagie. And I guess it would not be your mother’s or sister’s hoagie either. But here at the Little Jewel in Los Angeles they serve up the hoagie Cajun Style. I suppose you officially call them a Po’ Boy, which represents the Southern Take on the Hoagie. This place presents must eat Cajun fare, and for sandwiches it represents a gastrointestinal delight. I thought about listing all of the amazing fare here. But this would turn into a novel, which this is rapidly becoming. So check the place out at the link. And if you love your sandwiches, or your Cajun food, you will thank me.
Continue The Conversation –
So what did you think of the history of the hoagie? Do you have any news about the history of the subway sandwiches in other locations? I would love to know whether you have family instrumental in the creation of the sandwich. Or even share what your favorite hoagie is and why. And don’t forget to pick up a hoagie on the 14th. And if you feel like it, raise your glass to me on my birthday.
Follow Me –
If you liked this post, please be sure to click the like mark at the end of this post. And make sure you check out some of my other food holiday posts while you are at it. Also, remember that if you follow me here at the Guide via email you will get bi-weekly newsletters. And you will get access to the Dad Rules. These are ten rules that every father should know about and follow. Thanks for stopping by once again.
Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life