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“Subway—it’s..it’s fine. I mean, it’s Subway. It was open.”
~Rejected slogan for Subway
For nearly a century, the Americanized Italian sandwich has played a pivotal role in filling our bellies efficiently and deliciously. Cold cuts, cheese, lettuce, onion, and tomato, all shoved into a sliced loaf of Italian bread and drizzled with oil and seasoning, has long been the default, “I don’t know what I feel like for lunch, eh, I’ll just get a sandwich” lunch choice for generations of workers.
Widely known as the Submarine Sandwich, it goes by about 17 different names in different regions throughout America, with dozens of additional variants from people who want hot sandwiches or beef doused in it’s own juices in elongated sandwich form. While many long roll sandwiches end to differ in name only (subs, meet hoagies, you are the same), others are radically different and even manage the eschew cold cuts entirely, but all are delicious and American. So instead of awkwardly stumbling through the history of the “submarine, or, uh, grinder, or, uh…” sandwich, we’re going to look into each type of this classic meat delivery system in the hopes that, that by showing our differences, we can bring our nation together. By spending some 11,000 words talking about sandwiches that are shoved into Italian bread or rolls over the course of four articles. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, over 25 types of sandwiches total, but first, let’s start from the beginning.
The Regional Italian and Submarine Sandwiches of America: New England and New York