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Jun 9, 2012 11:52 AM

Do you know what a torpedo/dynamite is?

Growing up in Coventry, RI, torpedos were a mainstay of my childhood. The church served them at every festival and bingo night, and my mom and grandmother both made them. When I grew up, I was surprised to find that people in other parts of the state had no idea what they were - maybe it was just a Pawtuxet Valley thing, which is putting a really fine pont on "local" food! Yet in Woonsocket, they have dynamites which I believe is the same thing, from how I've heard them described..

Anyway, a torpedo wasn't just anothe word for grinder or sub to us. It was a specific kind of sandwich, eaten in a torpedo roll, natch. My recipe calls for a couple of pounds of ground beef cooked with a few chopped bell peppers, a chopped onion, several minced cloves of garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and a small can of tomato paste, cooked for a couple of hours with a little bit of water. Best served with potato chips! That may sound like a sloppy joe to you, but it's really not close at all - it's spicy, not sweet.

Can anyone tell me whether a Woonsocket dynomite is the same thing, or is that different? I'm curious as to the geographic range of the torpedo vs the dynomite, versus those Southern New Englanders who've never had either, so please give your hometown a shout out and help me with this little research project, lol!

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  1. Thee sandwich you refer is the same thing its a roll shaped like a torpedo. The mixture is loose ground meat with onions, peppers a bit of garlic and tomato sauce or thinned out tomato paste. Its like the famous Manwich sold in the stores but not with the vinegar/sweet back feel.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Frank Terranova

      Frank, I know what it is; I've made them and eaten them many times. However I've met many people who've never heard of them, so I was wondering if it was just regional - and how regiional!

      Or are you saying a dynomite is the same as what I call a torpedo?

      We never used tomato sauce though, just a small can of tomato paste for 2 1/2 to 3 lbs of hamburgh, so it's not very saucey or tomato-ey, and quite different from Manwiches because of the crushed pepper flakes among other things.

      1. re: sandsonik


        I misunderstood your Q. A torpedo as I have only heard of is a long crusty roll filled with meats and veggies. I have never heard of the Dynamite called a torpedo at all.. Only thing I can say they may be the same thing but in Woonsocket its the Dynamite and is the same recipe you use maybe in other regions in RI its called a torpedo .

        1. re: sandsonik

          Yes, they sound identical. Most people I know do make their dynamites with tomato sauce though ....although I have seen recipes only calling for some tomato paste.

          1. re: JaneRI

            Thanks for the answers. You wouldn't think a state as small as RI could have food that's so local another Rhode Islander wouldn't be aware of it!

            I love local dialects and quirks, more than ever in this age of national restaurant chains. Unfortunately, I think the "cabinet" has disappeared for all but the oldest Rhodes Islanders and dynamites and torpedos are probably just hanging on by a thread, and kids will only know "sloppy joes", which just isn't the same at all!

            1. re: sandsonik

              Dynamites are not just hanging on by a thread in northern RI .... I have a class reunion this wkend and the Friday night event (house party in a private home) is featuring a dynamite cookoff! I volunteered to make a pot before I knew a heat wave was coming. Yuck!

      2. I don't believe either exists on Aquidneck Island.

        1. Middletown, CT--never heard of either, but would be happy to try one. :)

          1. I'm in Stamford CT. and I've not heard of a torpedo/dynamite.

            1. Sandsonik,
              Been looking for info on torpedo recipe. Brushing up on family recipes. I grew up in R.I. of Portuguese heritage.
              My dad made this for us regularly. Basically same meat/peppers/garlic/onions etc. Used tomato paste not sauce then
              simmer 4 ever in a pot. Served in torpedo rolls. Delicious.
              Torpedo sauce is familiar in West Warwick, Providence, East Providence areas. Mostly through Portuguese families. I have not heard of "dynomite" @ all.
              If you find any interesting Torp. Sauce recipes in your search please let me know. Good luck in you research.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Mmglo

                i'd have to disagree with that. i grew up in west warwick in a portuguese family that loved to cook and a torpedo was nothing more than a kind of sandwich roll. had never heard of a dynamite till i met my wife's northern RI family. northern RI seems to be the only area dynamites are really widely known. they are good but where we grew up if you wanted a hot sandwich it was all about cacoila, which really has no connection other than being another cheap, regional hot sandwich served on a torpedo roll.