Sunday Scribblings: Hero

When I checked the Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week, there was no doubt in my mind what I would write about.

What the heck is the difference between a hero, a sub, and a grinder? This is a conversation that comes up in my office at lunchtime once every six weeks. We’re all foodies at heart, after all.

According to’s food dictionary, a hero sandwich is generally defined as “… a small loaf of Italian or French bread (or a large oblong roll), the bottom half of which is heaped with layers of any of various thinly sliced meats, cheeses, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, peppers—anything for which the cook is in the mood.”

Here in Massachusetts, we call them subs, which begs the question: Can a sandwich by any other name taste as delicious? Why yes, according to Wikipedia. Here's their list of sandwich names from around the country:

In the United States, the terms "submarine" and "sub" are widespread, but there are also many regional names for the sandwich, especially in the northeast part of the country:
  • Bomb — New England, usually used for hot sandwiches with melted cheese and other toppings. Steak bombs, turkey bombs--yum!
  • Bomber — New Jersey
  • Cosmo — North Central Pennsylvania in and around Williamsport, PA - a cosmo is an oven toasted sub.
    Grinder — New England (some say this refers specifically to an oven-toasted sub) and Riverside, CA. I've never heard anyone seriously use the term grinder.
  • Hero — New York, northern New Jersey and the Eastern United States. When I lived in Virginia, no one ever called them heroes.
  • Hoagie — Philadelphia and environs, including South Jersey
  • Italian — New Jersey, Maine, Maryland
  • Poor boy or Po' boy — Gulf Coast, especially around New Orleans
  • Spuckie — Boston, Massachusetts (now rare) . My husband is a Massachusetts native with Italian relatives and he's never heard the word.
  • Torpedo — New Jersey
  • Wedge — New Jersey and Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York and southwestern Connecticut
  • Zep (for zeppelin) — New Jersey. Really?
  • Italian - Maine, where "Italian" is used regardless of the filling--which is specified separately. For instance, a "ham Italian", a "veggie Italian" or a "roast beef Italian". A regular Italian tends to be a ham Italian. Italians are big here, too, especially, the Hot Italian sandwich. Hot Italians refers to the spicy flavor rather than the temperature.

    So what are these sandwiches called in your corner of the world?


Becca said…
Great take on this prompt! I had no idea there were so many names for these sandwiches! Here in Michigan we call them submarines, obviously referring to the shape of the bun.

Your office sounds like mine - the major topic of conversation every day seems to be lunch :)
Catherine said…
We didn't even eat sandwiches like that in New Zealand until Subway arrived. Now they are called "subs". I guess the nearest thing we had was a filled roll - other than that, sandwiches here were always made with sliced bread.
Bug said…
LOL! Leave it to you to find such a unique take on the prompt. Nice!
Remiman said…
Poet Mom,
Great take on the prompt!
We call them subs here in upper northern NY.
AnnieElf said…
After some heavy reading, this was a breath of fresh air.
paris parfait said…
I've always wondered about the difference, too. Nice take on the prompt.
January said…
Thanks everyone for the comments. Since I've written so much about The Incredibles, I thought I would offer my take on the prompt. Which, in the end, made me hungry.
Deb R said…
In this corner of Kentucky they're mostly called subs for cold sandwiches and hoagies for hot ones, except for one specific type of hoagie (a sort of pizza/steak thing) which is called a stromboli. :-)
ren.kat said…
how refreshing. And now I'm hungry.

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