Everyone loves food! Which might help to explain why it’s possible to find so many different food-themed days to celebrate throughout the year for anyone who wants to. So it’s not much of a surprise that this very special sandwich would get its own day too!
Whether it is known as a hoagie, a sub, a wedge, a hero, Italian sandwich or a grinder, today is the perfect day to celebrate everything you love about this overstuffed, tasty and savory treat.
History of National Hoagie Day
The humble hoagie first appeared on the plates of Americans around or soon after 1953, when the sandwich was first made in the Philadelphia shipyards from WWI.
At the time, Italians working in the shipyards would make a sandwich by putting meats, cheese and lettuce in a soft baguette-shaped roll and bring it to work with them. The story goes that this easy-to-make but delicious creation would soon be labeled with the nickname of ‘the Hog Island’. Then, maybe because it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue easily, it would soon be shortened to “hoggie” and then eventually would become known affectionately as the ‘hoagie’.
There’s also a second theory of the hoagie’s birth, where the sandwich is said to have been created by street food vendors who were known as ‘hokey-pokey men’ in the early 20th century. Supposedly, these food sellers would slice a long loaf in half and stuff it with antipasto salad before selling it as a filling snack. And perhaps they were also dancing the “hokey-pokey” at the same time?!
Well-known in Philadelphia, the hoagie sandwich is so enjoyed in the city that, in 1992, the mayor Ed Rendell declared that the hoagie should be considered the official sandwich of the city.
National Hoagie Day Timeline
Sandwiches are invented
The Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, asks for roast beef to be served between two slices of bread so he won’t have to get up from his work (or from gambling, depending on how the story goes).
Submarine sandwich is invented
A small Italian grocer in New Jersey sells sandwiches on long bread that he will eventually name “submarine” sandwiches because of the shape.
Hoagie sandwiches make their debut
In Philadelphia, after WWII, Italian immigrants who work on Hog Island bring long roll sandwiches with them. “Hog Island sandwiches” may have been shortened to “hoggies” and then to “hoagies”.
Hoagies are listed on menus
With its growing popularity, restaurants in Philly begin to list hoagie sandwiches on their menus and it spread from there.
Hoagie is made official in Philadelphia
Mayor Ed Rendell declares the Hoagie as the official sandwich of the city of Philadelphia.
How to Celebrate National Hoagie Day
Observing National Hoagie Day can be enjoyable for almost anyone when trying out some of these tips:
Enjoy a Hoagie at a Restaurant or Deli
Hoagies make the perfect lunch! In fact, that was their original purpose as they were used as an easily packable meal by the shipyard workers. So even if there’s not a lot of time for going all out in celebration, it’s easy to give a nod to National Hoagie Day by enjoying a grab-and-go sandwich lunch at a local deli.
Learn About Hoagies
Try out some of these fun facts to impress coworkers or friends for National Hoagie Day:
- The perfect hoagie roll was invented when Bucelli’s Bakery joined forces with DePalma to create a delicious 8-inch long roll, which eventually became the standard for hoagies.
- Americans eat more than 300 million sandwiches each year, many of which would classify as hoagies!
- Premium hoagies can be made with upscale ingredients, such as imported Italian lunch meats, prosciutto, gourmet cheeses and more.
- One of the biggest mysteries that seems to surround hoagies is the questions about what makes them different from other sandwiches like subs, heroes and grinders. But honestly, there isn’t much of a difference and they are basically the same sandwich just going by a different name.
Make a Homemade Hoagie Sandwich
It seems only right and good to celebrate hoagie day by fixing up a delightful and delicious homemade hoagie for yourself and those you love!
Start by slicing a soft or crispy long bread roll, throw in some favorite cold cut slices and don’t forget to add the cheese. For those who want to be fully authentic, don’t put mayo on there but, instead, stick with good quality olive oil and some Italian herbs. Finish off with some tomato and lettuce for a bit of extra crunch.
And for those who really want to get serious about National Hoagie Day, why not bake your own bread to craft your artisanal sandwich with? Fresh bread is certainly best.
Visit the Birthplace of Hoagies
Those who are super in love with hoagies might just find that National Hoagie Day is best spent in the city of Philadelphia, the place where hoagie sandwiches were first created. Some of the best and most famous Philly hoagie shops include:
- Antonio’s Deli. Located in south Philly, Antonio’s serves its sandwiches on freshly baked bread from Sarcone’s, a fifth generation Italian bakery. They even serve a non-traditional vegetarian option.
- Cosmi’s Deli. Operating since 1932, Cosmi’s offers more than a dozen different hoagie options on their menu, as well as cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches.
- Liberty Kitchen PHL. With a small but delicious hoagie menu, Liberty in Fishtown offers sandwiches with hand-stretched Caputo mozzarella and other sought after gourmet ingredients.
- Datillo’s Delicatessen. For more than 40 years this deli has been offering up tasty hoagies, including their house specialty that includes hot capicola, pepperoni, salami, provolone cheese, artichoke hearts and homemade roasted red peppers.
Share National Hoagie Day
Don’t keep the joy of the hoagie all to yourself. Snap a pic and share that tasty creation on social media, so other observers can join in on the fun. And perhaps it might be fun to invite some friends over for a hoagie making party. Or create a hoagie sandwich making line in the breakroom at work.
Simply line up the ingredients, including artisan bread rolls, gourmet cheese options, lunch meats and veggies, and let people pile them on as high as they like. Add some condiments such as mayo, herbs and spices, or olive oil and everyone can enjoy what they love!
Have a great hoagie day!
National Hoagie Day FAQs
What is National Hoagie Day?
National Hoagie Day celebrates the long bread sandwich filled with meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato and seasonings.
When is National Hoagie Day?
National Hoagie Day is celebrated annually on the 5th of May.
How to celebrate National Hoagie Day?
On this day, it’s best to eat a hoagie, share one with friends, or even take a trip to Philadelphia to enjoy a hoagie!
Are hoagies Italian?
Hoagies are believed to have originated from Italian immigrants living in Philadelphia.