Ever wondered why sandwiches are sometimes called by other names like a hoagie or hero?
No matter what you call them, people love sandwiches. It seems like just about every culture has their own version of a sandwich and in this country they’re a booming industry. In Denver we usually just call them by their name, but in other parts of the country you’ll hear things like hoagie and Dagwood. Here are some of the more popular sandwich terms and the legends behind them.
Hero – This term comes from New York. Some say it’s a distorted pronunciation of “gyro,” others say it was coined by writer Clementine Paddleworth in her 1936 food column where she referred to a sandwich so big “you had to be a hero to eat it.”
Grinder – Mostly used in New England although the term “sub” is more common. Some say the word grinder was slang for the Italian-American dockworkers, but others say it came from the fact that the popular Italian sandwiches featuring several meats, cheese and crusty bread required more chewing.
Hoagie – What they call big Italian sandwiches in Philadelphia. The term reportedly came from the Philadelphia Navy Yard where the workers were called “hoggies” and the name eventually changed. Another theory is that Al de Palma, a 1920’s jazz musician turned sandwich shop owner, upon seeing people eat huge sandwiches said you “had to be a hog” to eat them. When he later opened his own shopped he called sandwiches “hoggies” and again the term was later changed to hoagie.
Po’ Boy – This term is specific to New Orleans and the story goes that in 1929 two brothers showed their support for the streetcar conductors on strike by handing out free sandwiches. They reportedly would say to each other, “here comes another poor boy,” whenever one walked into their shop for their sandwich.
Other interesting regional sandwich names include “spuckie” in south Boston, “garibaldis” in Wisconsin, “zeppelin” in Pennsylvania, “bomber” near Buffalo, and “Dagwoods” in parts of the upper Midwest.