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Pieces of the Past: What’s In a Name?

June 14, 2023

Sometimes I just gotta write something for the heck of it. This Piece of the Past has little to do with Warren but in a way it does! If you travel much you discover that some places in our nation speak English but to us it’s a different language!

Mainly because nouns are regional. It brings me to a simple trip to Kane, Pa.

I had been out selling radio ads and was starving. I stopped at a popular meat market to get a sandwich. I was stunned when I asked the girl behind the counter if they made subs. She said, “Sorry no we don’t!” I am sure she saw the disbelief on my face as I turned to leave. She said. “We can make you a HOAGIE!”

Trying my best not to look angry (because I was starving) I said, “Okayyy I gotta ask what’s the difference?” It turns out that their version of a Hoagie is a lot different than a sub. Instead of the usual toppings their Hoagie is meat, cheese and relish on a long roll. It was great!

The origin of the “Hoagie” is pretty colorful.

The Hoagie was created by workers on Hog Island near Philadelphia. It seems the workers, mainly Italian immigrants, were starving. A ship carrying produce and meat for the war crashed into the island. The Hog Island sandwich was born. By World War 2 the name was shortened to Hoagie.

I recently learned that a Grinder is not a sub either. A Grinder starts out like any other submarine sandwich. But the innards are hot! Whatever you put into a Grinder is heated. So yeah, a Grinder is not a sub. Probably the world’s most famous Grinder is a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. In Warren, The Warren Sub Shop’s steak and onion sandwich was technically a Grinder!

There are Heros, and at least a half dozen more names associated with a Submarine Sandwich. An Italian grocery store owner Dominic Conti, living in New Jersey was making sandwiches on a long roll. In 1901 the U.S. Navy’s first practical modern submarine was salvaged and Conti went to the Patterson Museum to see it. He was surprised to see how much the Fenian Ram looked like one of his sandwiches!

Warren Sub Shop, V and J’s, and Pace’s can thank Dom Conti and the U.S. Navy for inspiring the name of my favorite meal on a bun!

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