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Subs, Hoagie's, etc.

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  • ADK Jul 8, 2005 10:13 AM
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I am trying to figue out the geographical boundaries for the various names ascribed to essentially (repeat, essentially) the same kind of sandwich: deli meats or meatballs or chicken parm or tuna salad, etc., on a long, tubular (usually Italian bread style) roll. For example, the Philly area calls them "hoagies," while South Jersey calls them "subs." In New Orleans they seem to be called "Po Boys," (but I am not even sure if this term refers to the broad class of sandwiches, or only a discrete subcategory.) In some places, they are called "heroes." What are the bounderies of these names, and by what other names are these sandwiches called throughout the country?

p.s. I grew up calling them "wedges." Can you figure out where I am from?

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  1. In Virginia we call them subs. It was the same when I lived in North Carolina.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Janet

      In Buffalo, NY and most of Western NY we call them subs whether they're hot or cold. Some restaurants call them different things on their menus though. You can get mayo, oil and vinegar, oregano dressing, etc - it usually depends on the place but in the sub place I worked at mayo and oil and vinegar were standard unless it was a pizza or meatball sub. We also had to distinguish between mayo and salad dressing (Miracle Whip) because there are strong allegiances to both.

    2. In New England, grinders. Wedge is Ohio, right? Or maybe Baltimore?

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowgal

        In Philly, the difference between a grinder and a hoagie is that a grinder is heated up.

      2. In my experience in the NYC area it usually is 'hero', though it is not uncommon to see them called 'sub'.

        The first time I heard the term 'wedge' was about 5 years ago when I was doing a job in Purchase, NY (Westchester County). Of course, I had to ask what that meant, and was told "it's what you guys call a hero". I'm sure they get that question all the time...

        1 Reply
        1. re: TongoRad

          Right. I'd never heard "wedge" until I moved to southern Westchester County.

        2. In the Boston area, cold sandwiches ( usually with oil)are usually called Subs, and the oven cooked ones, ( which usually include shredded lettuce) are called grinders.
          One of my relatives lives in the Akron/Canton area, and she claims she cannot get good subs in her area. She loves Italian subs with lots of hot peppers. I am taking a road trip out to see her tomorrow, so I stopped at a local deli, told the deli clerk to give me enough cold cuts to make a dozen large Italian subs. Also bought some hamburger dill chips, a vidalia onion, pastene hot peppers and vine tomatoes. Then stopped at Piatedosi's ( local Italian bread bakery/outlet), and bought a dozen large sub rolls. She will be happy when we arrive tomorrow!!

          1. In the part of Maine that I'm from (Central Me.) there are Dagwood's. Also some parts of the state say Italian Sandwich. I'm not sure how widespread this is in northern New England.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Pat Hammond

              Hi Pat: Having spent many summers up in your neck of the woods (Waterville area), I'll throw my 2 cents in.

              Dagwoods are served on (in, actually) pita bread. Italians are the Maine version of subs.

              1. re: Bob W.

                Thanks, Bob, for setting the record straight. I've never had a Dagwood. But I've had a lot of Italians! pat

                1. re: Bob W.

                  I grew up in the Portland area. Italians are a very specific type of sub. They consist of either ham or salami, processed cheese, fresh tomatoes, green peppers & onions, (very) sour pickles, and black olives, topped with olive oil, salt and pepper, and are served on a soft (not crusty) long roll. The term sub is used there the way it is many other places, meaning a sandwich on a long crusty roll with any of a wide variety of fillings. I never heard of a grinder until I went to college in Vermont, and never heard of a wedge until I moved to southeastern NY in the 1980s. I now live in the Albany area and sub seems to be the accepted term here - I never hear anyone talking about grinders, wedges or heros here.

                  1. re: John Kent

                    In the area I grew up ( just north of Boston), and Italina was also very specific- capicola (SP?), salami, mortadella and provolone served with dill pickles, onions, tomatoes, hot peppers, oil and S/P. If you wanted an "American", you would get bologna, boiled ham and American cheese with all the fixings.
                    And to this day, that is how I like my Italian subs. Can't abide the cooked ( grinders) sandwiches.

                    1. re: John Kent

                      Nice -- you described the Italians I remember so fondly to a "T." Sounds the recipe traveled up to Waterville without a hint of deviation. The pickles, I will note, were always little cubes, not slices.

                      One thing we loved about both Dagwoods and Italians in the Waterville area was the availability of crunchy strips of bacon as a topping. If you really wanted to go whole hog (so to speak), you'd get a ham Italian with EXTRA bacon. Now that's good eating!

                2. I grew up in Connecticut, and we used “sub” and “grinder” interchangeably, unless you were from Fairfield County (bordering NY/Westchester County) where they are called wedges.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mels

                    Bingo. North Salem, NY, on the border of Ridgefield, CT.

                    1. re: ADK

                      I was going to say Hastings-on-Hudson, NY - where I grew up and called them wedges too. Poor me, once I left town!
                      Amjo's deli on Farragut Ave made a great Italian wedge.

                  2. OK, here's what is probably the most obscure one of all:

                    Spuckies, also known as spukkies. This term is/was used in some sections of Boston. I would love to know where the heck it came from.

                    Check out the reminiscences from a Roslindale native. This guy is a born chowhound!

                    Link: http://libertyyes.homestead.com/files...

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Bob W.

                      Great post and link. Spukkies-- They are the small french rolls ( at least that is what a spukkie is/was in the malden/melrose area. I still go to Piantadosi's in Malden and but them when I am having a crowd. Can buy a brown bag full for a few dollars. Some of the old time Italilans who still work at the outlet call them by this name.

                      1. re: Bob W.

                        That article was great. I could hear my dads voice reading it. He grew up in JP but the attitude was the same....

                        1. re: foodiex2

                          And thanks to that fellow I now know that pepper and egg sandwiches were a meatless Friday invention.

                          The things you learn on the Internet.

                        2. re: Bob W.

                          Great article.

                          My own personal experience:

                          Grinder - Connnecticut (Waterbury, Hartford)
                          Sub - San Francisco, Massachusetts
                          Torpedo - San Diego
                          Muffalata - New Orleans
                          Poor Boy - New Orleans
                          Torta - Mexico, California
                          Bahn Mi - California (well, everywhere)
                          Baguette - France (the kind with the wisp of ham and butter, usually)

                        3. In Houston, Po Boys focus on real meat, whild subs focus on sliced deli meat.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: MidtownCoog

                            What's a Po Boy with fake meat called?

                            1. re: Scagnetti

                              A Faux-Boy, of course!

                              Not to be confused with the Tofu-Boy.

                            2. re: MidtownCoog

                              In New Orleans, the bread is french bread (or New Orleans' version of french bread) for a poor boy. Often it's fried seafood (oysters or shrimp), or roastbeef, or meatballs, or even french fries. If you want it "dressed", that's with mayo, mustard, tomato, maybe pickles. Add your own tabasco. I've never had a poor boy where the filling was cold (intentionally), but they may exist.

                              1. re: Jess

                                Good point on the bread. That's the same in Houston.

                                Now that I think about it, banh mi is really nothing more than a po-boy.

                                1. re: MidtownCoog

                                  Yep. Vietnam and New Orleans both have french backgrounds, and we have a very large vietnamese population here. If I'm not mistaken, bahn mi is translated as poor boy on the vietnamese restaurant menus here.

                                  I personally like the french bread from vietnamese bakeries much better than the old line new orleans bakeries (I'm not a native, so I can admit it). They make it denser and chewier, more like french baguettes in France.

                            3. In Pittsburgh in the 60s and 70s, subs were served room temperature, and were generally smaller, like on a sandwich or torpedo roll. Usually found in markets and delis. Hoagies were on Italian bread, the meat and cheese were baked, preferably in a pizza oven, then the lettuce, tomato, onions, and oil-and-vinegar were added. Served hot and fragrant. Often a pizzeria item. These generalizations apply, I think, as far away as Morgantown and Wheeling.

                              1. In the Balt/DC area they tend to be called subs by the "locals" but since there are so many people here from other parts of the country, other names tend to slip in from time to time.

                                I was also wondering about the word "sammies"

                                I use it all the time to refer to anything between 2 slices of bread but not sure if it is used a lot by others.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Tugboat

                                  You get where 'sammies' comes from, right? Sandwich? Sammich? Sammy? Please tell me you realize this.

                                  1. re: cendant

                                    Yes, I am aware.

                                    But I met a person who asked what I meant by sammie.

                                    I said, you know. . a sandwich.

                                    They then proceeded to make sure I knew how to spell sandwich becasue it starts with "sand" and not "sam" and how could I possibly get sammie from sandwich.

                                    So now I am getting it from both sides. Sheesh.

                                    1. re: Tugboat

                                      Phhewww. I just saw today someone on a NY board mentioning 'sangies'. A sangwich.

                                      1. re: chowgal

                                        I've heard of a "sangwich" but never a sangie. A sangwich is a pop culture term, I'm just spacing on where it comes from. I'm sure someone else will know.

                                        1. re: chowgal

                                          Some Aussies say sanger so maybe that's where the NY poster got sangie from.

                                        2. re: Tugboat

                                          In DC and Arlington,VA sandwich tends to be pronounced "sa'wich", the "nd" dropped. I was never even aware of it until my wife pointed it out. I am nearly incapable of pronouncing the word as it is spelled. It feels as though spitting out a foreign object. After nearly 20 years of marriage, my Connecticut-raised wife still shudders when she hears me enunciate the word. In the DC area, anything served between two slices of bread is a "sa'wich". Anything served on a long roll (besides a hot dog, half-smoke or sausage) is a "sub", be it hot or cold. People who call them "hoagies" or "grinders" or whatever are from elsewhere.

                                    2. i grew up in detroit & we called them either subs or heros. i live in north carolina now and, due to the large influx of people from outside the state, you hear just about everything. i'd say sub is probably the most common and oldest (although this type of sandwich is a relatively new thing for this area).

                                      my experience w/ po boys would cause me to place them into their own category. i'd say a muffaletta is closer (although shaped differently) to a hero/hoagie/sub/grinder.

                                      1. The South Jersey I grew up in called them Hoagies. (But the discrepancy might be due to how you define South vs. Central or North Jersey. Much of South Jersey considers itself part of the Philly area--people commute in and out of the city and root for Philly sports teams.) So "South Jersey" (I'd say exit 5 and below, and yes, we do figure geography by exits) calls the cold sandwiches Hoagies and the hot ones subs or occasionally heroes. The same goes for Philly.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: nc213

                                          In Philly, the cold ones are called hoagies and the hot ones are called grinders. But I never really knew anyone who ate them hot here.

                                          1. re: Ray

                                            What part of Philly? I lived in Manayunk for five years and I never heard anyone use the term grinder (as I did in New York and Northern Jersey). Is it possible that different parts of the city use different terms? or could we be talking about different kinds of sandwiches? I was thinking of a meatball or chicken parm hot sandwich, which I would have ordered as a sub.

                                            1. re: nc213

                                              I grew up in South Philly and my family owned a steak and hoagie place in Center City for 30 years. I never heard locals use the term "sub" or "hero"

                                              Hoagies that were served warm were always listed as "grinders" on all the menus I ever saw (we didn't have them on the menu at our store, but if someone asked for one we would oblige).

                                              1. re: Ray

                                                Is it possible that term is out of date because I lived in Philly for 5 years and really didn't hear it.

                                            2. re: Ray
                                              j
                                              Jersey City Mods

                                              Actually, Ted's Hoagies in Conshohocken serves grinders which is just a hoagie which is toasted in the pizza oven.

                                              You are making me want one.

                                            3. re: nc213

                                              I was thinking AC, Margate, etc., such as in Dino's or the other one, I think it's called White-something. But maybe that area isn't considered S. Jersey, as you point out.

                                              1. re: ADK

                                                Whitehouse?

                                                1. re: Tugboat

                                                  I am sure that's it. I couldn't remeber if it was Whitehouse or Whitehorse, such as in the tavern in NYC.

                                                  1. re: ADK

                                                    Definitely the closer you get to Philly in NJ it is referred to as Hoagie. The shore depends, alot of North Jerseyites and NYers are there.

                                                    1. re: ADK

                                                      It must refer to the Whitehouse Sub Shop in Atlantic City, NJ. The best sub anywhere.

                                              2. In NYC the sandwich is reffered to as a hero by all locals whether it is hot or cold. Because of this Ny'ers mispronouce Gyro so as not to get it confused with Hero.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: MV

                                                  I always wondered about that....no one ever had a good explanation before!

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    Thats always been my interpretation as to why even my greek relatives who pronounce everything else correctly mispronounce gyro.

                                                2. I grew up in upstate NY and always said "heros" or subs". I then moved to Philly in high school and have now adopted the Philly way of saying "hoagie".

                                                  The only main difference that I've seen is that due to the bad water, the Philly "hoagie" bread is by far superior to the other sandwiches that I've seen and they also prefer oil and oregano to mayo on them. Grinders still remain hoagies that are heated with the meat and cheese on the roll.

                                                  As a side note, the Philadelphians are quite snobbish about their hoagies. Just today, I ordered an Italian with mayo and oregano rather than oil and was made fun of by both my coworkers and the order takers at the shop. It was worth it......

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: jessicheese

                                                    It's not the bad flouride tasting water, they use a softener in the bread (I can't remember the exact term, it's been years). This is also one of the (many) reasons that no one can come close to Philly cheese steaks.

                                                    1. re: KenOnDean
                                                      j
                                                      Jersey City Mods

                                                      I'm also a Philly transplant. When I lived in Irvington New York (on the Hudson in Westchester County) people used to call the Italian meatball sandwiches wedges. When I lived in Westport, CT I seem to remember them being grinders. Before that, when I lived near Boston, they were called submarines. (I think in JC, they were just called subs).

                                                      It's also true that people in Philly look at you funny if you order mayo on a Hoagie (you have to ask for it). But I don't care. The other thing is they do not do mixes of say, turkey and ham. It's all one or the other.

                                                      I really do think the Hoagie is one area where Philly excels.

                                                  2. Back in the 50's when I first became aware of this food (up in Conn.) we called them-(you should excuse the expression)-"guinea grinders".

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: chaz

                                                      Excusing the expression aside, in Iowa the Guinea grinder is still a popular item at many places,especially the state fair. It consist of ground Italian sausage, cheese, and sauce on a hoagie like roll. Some places make it with a mix of ground beef and Italian sausage. Toppings vary from jalapenos, mushrooms, onions, whatever, but they are all called Guinea Grinders.
                                                      Maybe we haven't reached the PC level of the rest of the country. Maybe that's why I like it here. ;-)

                                                    2. We can them subs in Akron-Canton Ohio, hot or cold. Heard of a wedgie at a pizza place called Fox Pizza in Green Ohio. It's a sandwich on pizza crust. Sammies I first heard from Rachael Ray and now at Quiznos.

                                                      1. Northeast PA = Hoagie

                                                        and Lehigh Valley/Philly/NJ there is also the WaWa Shortie!

                                                        1. I am from Maine and they call subs "Italians", but they are no where near as good a true hoagie - what's great is that we've found a place in Casco, ME called Pear's that makes really amazing hoagies

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: mygoldenbetsy

                                                            That is pronounced Eye-talian and for a real Mainah and it comes wrapped in tar paper w/ 30 weight motor oil and left on the dashborad of the cah to cure. When we first moved here, I chuckled at a billboard that read "We serve Italians" (How civil rights minded.) and "Eat a Fresh Italian" (How risque or cannibalistic!) Hoagies are hot and the bread is too soft. Now a lobster sub, wicked good, cappy!
                                                            Welcom to Chowhound, mygoldenbetsy. My choco is Zoe.

                                                          2. In central Texas, it's a sub. On rare occasions, someone will call one a subway, kind of like a tissue's called a kleenex.

                                                            Or a sammich, if you're being cute. ;o)

                                                            Po' boy here usually refers to a certain kind of sandwich at a Cajun restaurant.

                                                            I did see an ad for subs at a gas station that called them "stuffed flats," though. I've never seen that before.