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Hero-ics

Hudson Cooper
Posted 4/1/21

It may sound like I am full of baloney, but Americans eat more that 300 million sandwiches a day. Since there are about 331 million people in our country, that means many of us are consuming one a …

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Hero-ics

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It may sound like I am full of baloney, but Americans eat more that 300 million sandwiches a day. Since there are about 331 million people in our country, that means many of us are consuming one a day.

The sandwich is a quick, easy way to eat a lunch or dinner. It begins with two slices of bread whether it be rye, white, wheat, seven grain or nine grain. Inside you place whatever is handy whether it is luncheon meat such as salami or peanut butter and jelly. Slap the two pieces of bread together and you have a meal.

The grain content of bread always confused me. So, I consulted Morgan DeKalb author of “I Make Bread Because I Knead The Dough.” According to Mr. DeKalb the difference between seven and nine grain has nothing to do with taste. “Healthwise there is not a grain of proof that nine is better for you than seven.”

Historians believe the sandwich originated in England around 1762. John Montagu, a noble with the title The Earl of Sandwich, was a gambler who spent hours wagering at the tables. During one long session he asked his cook to put some meat between two slices of bread so he could eat it with one hand as he maintained his seat at the table. London society heard of his concoction and it caught on.

By the time of the revolution, the British had introduced the sandwich to the colonies under their domain. We took the basic concept and made it our own. Actually, we did more than that which brings us to the central theme of this column. We took an elongated roll and developed a new type of sandwich. We even gave it many new names even though they are made with the same basic ingredients.

Depending on what part of the country you reside in it is called a hero, sub, hoagie, sideboard, grinder, spukie or torpedo. No matter the name it is a long cylindrical roll, split lengthwise and filled with cheeses, meats, vegetables, condiments and lathered with dressings like mustard or mayonnaise. All the previously mentioned names derive from a particular section of our country. Well, all except for a sideboard which is not a type of sandwich but a table that is usually in a dining room to hold dishes of food.

Let us explore our geographically indigenous sandwiches. First up is the sub. Short for submarine some claim the name emanated from New London, Connecticut home to our Navy's main submarine base during World War II. Another theory says it was named by Dominic Conti, an Italian immigrant who named his creation after a submarine he saw in a museum in Paterson, New Jersey. Perhaps the torpedo sandwich was launched from the sub.

The hoagie sprang from Philadelphia. During World War I workers built emergency ships for the war effort in an area known as “Hog Island.” The workers were known as hogies or hoagies. But like the other sandwiches the hoagie is basically constructed the same way.

The grinder stems from New England where grinder was a nickname for dockworkers who grinded out a living. In Philadelphia, a grinder is a hoagie that has been oven toasted after assembly.

So far, the mentioned sandwiches have a nautical theme including ship builders and dockworkers.

The spukie is popular in Boston where they parhk the cahr in Harvard yarhd and go to one of the local bakeries to grab lunch.

This brings us to the New York sandwich, the hero. The term for the sandwich is attributed to NY Herald Tribune columnist, Clementine Paddleworth, who in 1936 referred to it as a hero because you “had to be a hero to eat all of it.” And yes, that was his real name.

In Act Two of Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet,” Juliet asks, “What's in a name?” When applied to America's favorite sandwich, whichever name you choose, the answer is meat, cheese, vegetables and dressings on a cylindrical roll.

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