Hog Island Hoagies

It’s not a sub: Its ori­gin might be un­clear, but the ho­agie is in Philly for the long run.

The ques­tion on the game show Jeop­ardy is “Heavy on the oil, no mayo, pep­pers on the side.” The im­me­di­ate Phil­adelphia re­sponse: “What is a ho­agie?”

The ori­gin of the ho­agie is ques­tion­able, as there are a few ver­sions of how our sand­wich got its name. There is a claim that the ho­agie was first made at DiCost­anza’s gro­cery – a store in Chester that opened in 1925. But what Phil­adelphi­an could be­lieve that? Chester – really? Or, the talk is that the first ho­agie was made on or near Hog Is­land, the Phil­adelphia Nav­al Yard, an in­dus­tri­al and ship­ping area of South Phil­adelphia dur­ing World War I. Ori­gin­ally called a Hog Is­land Sand­wich, it later be­came known as a “ho­gie” for short. A “ho­gie” even­tu­ally be­came known as a “ho­agie.” An­oth­er pos­sib­il­ity is that an Ir­ish work­er named Hogan asked his Itali­an cowork­er if his wife would pack an ad­di­tion­al sand­wich for him for lunch. So “make one for Hogan” was shortened to “hogans,” then be­came “ho­agies.” Fur­ther, any­one who could fin­ish the whole thing was thought to be a hog – “hog­gie.” Al­though Itali­an sand­wiches were re­por­ted to be made in New York in 1885, and in New Or­leans in 1891, they were not quite the ho­agie.

All ver­sions seem plaus­ible, and could have pro­duced the word ho­agie. Clearly, this is no hog­wash.

The ho­agie as­sumed many ali­ases, as it made its way around the coun­try. De­pend­ing on your loc­a­tion, the sand­wich could be known as a sub, a tor­pedo, a zep­pelin, a hero, a grinder or a poor boy. But the real deal, made in Philly, is a ho­agie. The word “ho­agie” means a reg­u­lar or Itali­an to me. Of course, di­verse stuff­ings are avail­able to make a ho­agie, but I’m stick­ing with the clas­sic.    

Beat­ing out the cheesesteak, which is def­in­itely a Philly phav­or­ite, the ho­agie was pro­claimed “The Of­fi­cial Sand­wich of Phil­adelphia” in 1992 by then-May­or Ed Rendell.

The psy­che­del­ic van has stopped. It’s parked for an­oth­er winter. The John Len­non lookalike can rest un­til next sum­mer. Of­fi­cially, the Wawa Ho­agiefest 2014 has come to a close. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good ho­agie. The best ho­agies in town just might be made in your own kit­chen.

Here’s a good homemade Itali­an-style ho­agie to go hog wild over, and still be kind to your piggy bank. Guar­an­teed all your “hoggy,” ho­agie-lov­ing fam­ily and friends will be happy.

HO­AGIE (Itali­an Style or Reg­u­lar)

½ cup oil 

1 Tb­sp. crushed red pep­per

1 tsp. oregano

½ tsp. basil leaves

1½ Tb­sp. red wine vin­eg­ar

4 8-inch ho­agie rolls, sliced ¾ way through

½ lb. thin sliced ham

1/3 lb. thin sliced Gen­oa salami

½ lb. thin sliced hot ham or capi­c­ola

1/3 lb. Pro­volone cheese, sliced thin

Shred­ded lettuce

Thinly sliced to­ma­toes – 2 large

Thinly sliced onions – 1 large

Salt and Pep­per to taste

May­on­naise (op­tion­al)

Sweet or Hot cherry pep­pers, sliced (op­tion­al)

Pickle, sliced (op­tion­al)

- In a small sauce­pan, heat oil un­til barely hot.  

- Re­move from heat and add crushed red pep­pers and spices.

- Al­low to stand 10 minutes. Add vin­eg­ar.

- Brush rolls with seasoned oil mix­ture.

- Di­vide and lay­er cheese, then lay­er meats on the rolls.

- Add lettuce and to­mato between cheese and meat lay­ers.  

- Add onion slices.

- Add salt and pep­per to taste. Add ex­tra seasoned oil, if de­sired.

- Fin­ish with (op­tion­al) pep­pers and pickles.

It’s easy to trans­form the above re­cipe in­to a ho­agie dip with a few minor al­ter­a­tions.


Use the same in­gredi­ents as above.

- Chop meats and cheese.

- Chop onions and to­ma­toes.

- Add ¼ cup may­on­naise.

- Make the seasoned oil. Set aside.

- Cut rolls in­to thin slices.

- In a large bowl mix meat, cheese, onions, and pep­pers.

- Add salt and pep­per to taste. Add seasoned oil.

- Add ¼ cup may­on­naise.

- Add to­ma­toes and lettuce and mix.

Note: If not serving im­me­di­ately, mix everything but lettuce. Add shred­ded lettuce just be­fore serving.

- Serve with bread slices.

The ho­agie is a Phil­adelphia in­sti­tu­tion, as are soft pret­zels, steak sand­wiches, Tastykakes, cin­na­mon buns, scrapple and Rocky.

“Yo, Ad­ri­an, what do you want on your ho­agie?”

Eat well, live long, en­joy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­NEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the North­east Times, 3412 Pro­gress Drive, Suite C, Ben­s­alem, PA 19020)

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