Philadelphia, PA - “The official sandwich of Philadelphia” Declared by Philly's former Mayor Ed Rendell in 1992, the hoagie is a built-to-order sandwich on a long Italian roll, typically filled with deli meat and cheese, garnished with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and onions and finished with a drizzle of oregano-vinegar dressing.
What Is A Hoagie?: Declared the “official sandwich of Philadelphia” by Mayor Ed Rendell in 1992, the hoagie is a built-to-order sandwich on a long Italian roll, typically filled with deli meat and cheese, garnished with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and onions and finished with a drizzle of oregano-vinegar dressing. Hoagies can also be filled with tuna, chicken cutlets, and roasted vegetables, among other fillings. Because of its simplicity, the quality of a hoagie truly depends on the quality of its ingredients.
Hoagie History: Accounts of the hoagie’s origin vary greatly, and scholars are still debating exactly where and when the sandwich was conceived. Here are a few of the stories that pinpoint the hoagie’s origin to Philadelphia:
- According to a 1967 article in American Speech, the word “hoagie” was first used in the late 19th or early 20th century among the Italian community in South Philadelphia. In those days, “On the hoke” was a slang term for a poor person. Deli owners would give away meat and cheese scraps on a long roll called a “hokie,” but Italian immigrants pronounced it “hoagie.”
- The Philadelphia Almanac and Citizen’s Manual tells of early 20th-century street vendors named “hokey-pokey men,” who sold antipasto salad, meats, and cookies. When Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera Pinafore opened in Philadelphia, in 1879, bakeries produced a long loaf called the pinafore, and the enterprising hokey-pokey men sliced it in half, filled it with antipasto and sold it as the “hoagie.”
- In 1925, a Chester couple opened the A. DiCostanza grocery store, which stayed open past midnight to accommodate gamblers. One night, a hungry card player walked to the back of the store when Catherine DiCostanza was cooking peppers and asked if she would make him a sandwich. She asked what kind of meat he wanted, and he said, “Put everything you have in the case in it.” She took a loaf of Vienna bread and sliced it open and stuffed it. He asked her to put some of her peppers in too. He left, and an hour later, the place was full of hungry gamblers asking for the same kind of sandwich, which would later be known as the hoagie.