AskDefine | Define hoagy

Dictionary Definition

hoagy n : a large sandwich made of a long crusty roll split lengthwise and filled with meats and cheese (and tomato and onion and lettuce and condiments); different names are used in different sections of the United States [syn: bomber, grinder, hero, hero sandwich, hoagie, Cuban sandwich, Italian sandwich, poor boy, sub, submarine, submarine sandwich, torpedo, wedge, zep]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  1. Pennsylvania: A sandwich made on a long bun; submarine sandwich.

Extensive Definition

A hoagie is a style of sandwich popular in Philadelphia and the surrounding region. It consists of an elongated roll typically packed with a selection of cold lunch meats, sliced cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, sweet or hot peppers, oregano, and olive oil. The roll is sliced down its length forming a cradle for the ingredients, somewhat like a hot dog bun. Having originated in the Philadelphia area, Hoagies are now commonly eaten in a wider region including Scranton, Pittsburgh, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and southern Ohio. Hoagies have a resemblance to sub or a hero sandwiches, but are distinct.


The original "hoagie" is what is now referred to as an "Italian Hoagie" which includes a variety of traditional Italian lunch meats, including dry salami, mortadella, capicolla, and provolone served with lettuce, tomato and onions with a light vinegar and oil dressing.
The Philadelphia Almanac and Citizen's Manual says that “the Centennial made popular the “hokey-pokey man,” a street vendor selling ices, sandwiches, sausages, fresh bread, “zoologicals” (Philadelphia baker Walter G. Wilson’s animal crackers), and small antipasto salad. When Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore” opened in Philadelphia in 1879, bakeries produced a long loaf called the pinafore. Entrepreneurial “hokey-pokey men” sliced the loaf in half, stuffed it with antipasto salad, and sold the world’s first hoagie.”
Professor Domenic Vitiello, professor of Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania offers a different explanation of the word's origins: "Italians used to work at the old Navy Yard [in Philadelphia] where they would grab meat, cheese, and lettuce and put it between two slices of bread. The location of the Navy Yard was called Hog Island, so the sandwich eventually became known as the 'Hog Island' sandwich; hence, the 'hoagie'."
According to one reference, many older, Italian-descended, South Philadelphia residents, said that the real origin of the word "hoagie" arose in the late 19th-early 20th century, when there was a term "on the hoke" that was used to denote someone who was down-and-out. The word "hoke" may have been derived from a Scottish term, "howk," meaning "rummaging around." Men who were "on the hoke" would ask deli owners for handouts, who would put together scraps and off-cuts of their cheeses and meats and offer them in an Italian roll. The sandwich was known as a "hokie." The Italian immigrants pronounced it as "hoagie."
Former Philadelphia mayor (now Pennsylvania governor) Ed Rendell declared the hoagie the "Official Sandwich of Philadelphia".


Since the 1960's, the popular usage of the term has expanded in the Philadelphia region to include any sandwich made on a long roll. In other areas of the country, this type of sandwich is referred to as a "Sub" or "submarine sandwich" and also as a "Po-boy". Sub-varieties of the sandwich are named after the principal ingredient.
In other parts of the U.S., calling something a hoagie is more specifically just the Italian Hoagie original.
Most hoagie shops offer single-meat hoagies (for example, ham or salami hoagies) as well as premium hoagies with upscale ingredients: prosciutto, imported Italian lunchmeats (coteghino, mortadella, sopressata, etc.). A popular variant is the grinder or cosmo, which is essentially a hoagie that has been toasted under a broiler.
Around New York City, the term wedge has also been used for this sandwich, and it is cut through the edge lengthwise, not the top like some hot dog buns.
In the Pittsburgh region the term hoagie is used to describe any type of toasted sandwich that is served on a long roll, not just one prepared in the specific manner stated above. This usage is considered a standard feature of Pittsburgh English.
In many areas the default cheese on a hoagie is Provolone, while in others it is white American cheese. Cheese-only hoagies (Provolone, American, or Mixed) replace the meat with extra slices of cheese.
Many takeout shops in Chicago, particularly in African-American neighborhoods on the South Side, sell a "hoagy" (sic.), usually containing steak and other ingredients, with the option of being "heated." They also sell cheesesteak, referred to most often as "Philly Steak."


  • American—typically includes ham and white American cheese, bologna, cooked salami and others
  • Bacon—typically includes bacon (instead of lunchmeat)and provolone cheese, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, raw onions, and some times sweet peppers
  • Breakfast—generally consists of bacon, eggs and cheese
  • Italian—typically includes hard or Genoa salami, prosciutto, mortadella, cappicola, and provolone cheese
  • Ham and Cheese—hot or cold with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayonnaise or oil, hot peppers and ground pepper
  • Tuna—either tuna salad or (especially in more ethnically Italian shops) Italian (canned) tuna in olive oil
  • Fish—some variety of whiting, breaded and lightly fried, typically with tartar sauce
  • Chicken salad
  • Chicken—as lunchmeat, grilled meat, or cutlet
  • Roast beef—as lunchmeat, with swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, raw onions, and mayonnaise or a vinegar and oil sauce
  • Roast pork—hot or cold
  • Turkey—hot or cold with provolone cheese
  • Cheese—white American or provolone or both (mixed), sometimes also Swiss cheese
  • Cheesesteak hoagie—a marriage with the cheesesteak sandwich. Essientially a cheesesteak with lettuce, tomato, and raw onions.
  • Veggie—usually grilled vegetables, such as peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli rabe; some shops even offer vegan hoagies, with no meat or dairy products
  • Meatball—meatballs in marinara sauce often with green peppers and onions and covered with mozzarella or provolone cheese
  • Tofu—Tofu, often lightly fried, with cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno, onion, and carrot.
Condiments include lettuce, tomato, onion, with optional dill pickles and hot or sweet pepper rings or hot pepper seed. Condiments can include salt, pepper, oregano or Italian seasoning, oil & vinegar, mustard, and mayonnaise.

Popular culture references

  • On The Simpsons, Homer Simpson's dream was to eat the world's largest hoagie. In another episode, a series of flashbacks shows Homer eating a 12-foot hoagie even after it has grown old enough to sprout hair and a mushroom.
  • In the Scrubs episode "My Sex Buddy", J.D. offered to buy Turk's friend Richard a hoagie and replacement basketball when he kicked the ball away.
  • In Crown Financial Ministry's one minute radio feature "The Ted and Tony Show," hoagies are the favorite food of the comedy duo and appear in many episodes.
  • In the computer game Day of the Tentacle, "Hoagie" is the name of one of the protagonists (incidentally there's also a joke about the sandwich being named after him).
  • A hoagie was used on a sketch on The Whitest Kids U Know, Trevor Moore had the hoagie and asked the submarine crew what another name for the hoagie was.
  • The song, "Lunchlady Land" by Adam Sandler has a reference to hoagies and grinders.


May 5 is National Hoagie Day.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

BLT, Dagwood sandwich, Sloppy Joe, Swiss cheese sandwich, bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, canape, cheeseburger, corned beef sandwich, double-decker sandwich, egg salad sandwich, grilled cheese sandwich, grinder, ham sandwich, hamburger, hot dog, pastrami sandwich, poor boy, sandwich, submarine sandwich, tuna salad sandwich, tunaburger
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