Northeast Times

Sandwich smackdown

In the Wawa Wel­come Amer­ica cel­eb­ra­tion's Ho­agie Day at In­de­pend­ence Mall, the Phil­adelphia Po­lice took on the Fire De­part­ment in a ho­agie mak­ing race. Of­ficers from Fishtown's 26th po­lice dis­trict par­ti­cip­ated in the con­test.

Wawa Wel­come Amer­ica was in full swing last week when the con­veni­ence store gi­ant brought its an­nu­al Ho­agie Day cel­eb­ra­tion to In­de­pend­ence Mall.

The day also served up its fair share of friendly com­pet­i­tion in a unique tra­di­tion: the city’s Po­lice De­part­ment - in­clud­ing of­ficers from the 26th dis­trict in Fishtown - versus its Fire De­part­ment in a ho­agie build­ing battle.

Rep­res­ent­at­ives for the fire de­part­ment up­set the Po­lice De­part­ment’s un­defeated re­cord and crushed them in the sand­wich show­down.

On Wed­nes­day, June 27, thou­sands packed the green and grassy yard in front of the very build­ing where the De­clar­a­tion of In­de­pend­ence was signed, and all of them were hungry and ready for a piece of the two and a half ton ho­agie that Wawa cre­ated for the day.

Ho­agie Day has be­come something of a tra­di­tion every Fourth of Ju­ly, ever since Wawa star­ted it in Phil­adelphia in 1992. At the time, Wawa served a 500-foot ho­agie and Ed Rendell, then may­or, pro­claimed the ho­agie the of­fi­cial sand­wich of the city.

This year’s gi­ant ho­agie was cre­ated with 15,000 rolls, over 500 pounds each of ham, salami and pros­cut­tini and 1,000 pounds of cheese. It was dubbed the “4.5 Ton Sa­lute to Our Troops,” as the day honored sol­diers and loc­al her­oes.

Dur­ing the day, Wawa CEO Howard Stoeck­el presen­ted the USO with a check for $100,000, and throughout In­de­pend­ence Mall kiosks were set up for res­id­ents to write let­ters to sol­diers over­seas.

Joe Brooks, pres­id­ent of the USO of Pennsylvania and South­ern New Jer­sey, said that the funds from Wawa wer­en’t the only sup­port that the con­veni­ence store chain provides to the mil­it­ary.

“Few com­pan­ies ac­tu­ally un­der­stand that sol­diers need sup­port every day of the year. Wawa is one of those com­pan­ies,” said Brooks, who said that throughout the year, Wawa provides the mil­it­ary with sup­plies and food, like juices and ice teas.

“Wawa gives product to the mil­it­ary for free,” he said.

As the thou­sands gathered on In­de­pend­ence Mall began to dig in to their free por­tions of the mam­moth sand­wich, May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter took to the stage to in­tro­duce ho­agie build­ing con­test.

In the con­test, the two teams had three minutes to cre­ate as many ho­agies as pos­sible. Be­fore last week’s co test, the po­lice team was un­defeated, with a re­cord of three to noth­ing.

But be­fore the po­lice and fire de­part­ments got to throw down, two teams from the PA Na­tion­al Air and Armed Guards took the stage for a lettuce sling­ing, ho­agie roll fling­ing com­pet­i­tion.

When the dust – and the to­mato and onion – had settled, the PA Na­tion­al Air Guard came out on top with a total of 75 ho­agies to the Armed Guard’s 55.

As the Po­lice and Fire De­part­ment teams took the stage, the may­or smiled and said he was ex­cited for the rivalry.

“This is an in­cred­ible culin­ary tra­di­tion in the City of Phil­adelphia,” said Nut­ter of Ho­agie Day. “As Mar­vin Gaye says, ‘Let’s get it on!’”

Yet due to a fire that day at Lorenzo’s Pizza at South and Third streets, the Fire De­part­ment team couldn’t par­ti­cip­ate. In­stead, Phil­adelphia Po­lice of­ficers and Wawa em­ploy­ees filled the Fire De­part­ment’s team.

That new team won, de­mol­ish­ing the Po­lice De­part­ment’s un­defeated re­cord with a total of 85 to 80.

“They had ringers,” said An­namae Law with a laugh.

As the com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer for the 26th po­lice dis­trict in Fishtown, it was the fourth year Law had par­ti­cip­ated in the Ho­agie Day event. This year, it in­cluded of­ficers from the 2nd, 15th and 26th po­lice dis­tricts.

She said that it didn’t mat­ter who won or lost, be­cause in the end the event was all in good fun, and Wawa donated $3,000 to the char­ity of choice to all of the teams that par­ti­cip­ated in the event.

Law also poin­ted out an­oth­er be­ne­fi­cial as­pect of the day’s events.

“Look around, this might be the only meal some of the people here get to eat today,” she said. “So, yeah, I think this is im­port­ant.”

Star Staff Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be con­tac­ted at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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