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 and variations of Philadelphia-style hoagies are now commonly eaten in a wider region including Scranton, Pittsburgh, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and southern Ohio. Hoagies have a strong resemblance to sub or a hero sandwiches.


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 oil dressing.

Professor Domenic Vitiello, professor of Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania asserts that Italians working at the World War I shipyard in Philadelphia, known as Hog Island where emergency shipping was produced for the war effort, introduced the sandwich, by putting various meat, cheese, and lettuce between two slices of bread. This became known as the 'Hog Island' sandwich; hence, the 'hoagie'."

The Philadelphia Almanac and Citizen's Manual offers a different explanation, that the sandwich was created by early twentieth century street vendors called “hokey-pokey men”, who sold antipasto salad, along with meats and cookies. 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.”

Another expanation is that the word "hoagie" arose in the late 19th-early 20th century, among the Italian community in South Philadelphia, when "on the hoke" was a slang used to describe a destitute person. Deli owners, would give away scraps of cheeses and meats in an Italian bread-roll known as a "hokie", but the Italian immigrants pronounced it "hoagie."

Former Philadelphia mayor (now Pennsylvania governor) Ed Rendell declared the hoagie the "Official Sandwich of Philadelphia". However, there are claims that the hoagie was actually a product of nearby Chester, Pennsylvania.


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 "submarine sandwich", "sub", "po' boy", "zep", "long sandwich" or "hero". 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 up-scale ingredients: prosciutto, imported Italian lunchmeats (cotechino, 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 take-out 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 Cheese Steak." They are sold primarily places in the downtown areas of Chicago, and in downtown Philadelphia, or "Center City".

In the southern United States, the term 'hoagie' typically refers only to heated slices of meat such as ham with a similar heated topping and cheese between two long slices of bread. Long sandwiches that have cold cuts on them are simply called subs.

Many hoagie eaters feel that their neighborhood's or region's hoagies are superior (e.g., rolls from Philadelphia) resulting in both significant discussions and inter-regional transport of hoagies. Visitors traveling with hoagies often inquire about "hoagage" (derived from Corkage), which is the charge exacted for every hoagie served that was not bought or made on the premises.


  • Italian—typically includes hard or Genoa salami, prosciutto, mortadella, cappicola, and provolone cheese
  • American—typically includes ham and white American cheese, bologna, cooked salami and others
  • Ham and Cheese—hot or cold with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayonnaise or oil, hot peppers and ground pepper
  • 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
  • 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
  • Cheesesteak hoagie—a marriage with the cheesesteak sandwich. Essientially a cheesesteak with lettuce, tomato, and raw onions.
  • Veggie—usually 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
  • Chicken salad
  • Chicken—as lunchmeat, grilled meat, or cutlet
  • 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
  • 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

  • The hoagie was a favorite of Bill Cosby's character Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable in The Cosby Show. He was also seen putting potato chips in one during a particular episode, which is a popular method of eating a hoagie in Philadelphia.
  • Don Vito of MTV's Viva La Bam loves hoagies. He is seen throughout the show eating them.
  • 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).
  • On the Adult Swim TV show Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tom sells hoagies to support a charity for glass eyes. The mayor pronounces hoagies incorrectly as "hoogies".
  • On Codename: Kids Next Door, Hoagie is the first name of one of the protagonists.
  • In a third season episode of House, Son of Coma Guy, House and Wilson travel to Atlantic City with a man temporarily awoken from a persistent vegetative state who is in search of his favorite hoagie restaurant before he relapses.
  • In a Saturday Night Live sketch parodying MTV's The Real World, Jim Breuer portrays a stoner housemate named Hoagie.
  • 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.
  • The West Wing episode The Wedding includes a discussion of what kind of hoagie order would play best with the voters at a Philadelphia photo opportunity.


May 5 is National Hoagie Day.

See also


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