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Cosmic Hoagie Mysteries, Explained

Today is National Hoagie Day, that annual celebration of cured meats, cheeses, toppings, and condiments placed gingerly in a roll and served to the hungry masses. This most tasty of manufactured holidays requires no gift-giving and very little stress, unless you happen to have a gluten intolerance. To commemorate the day, many local establishments such as our foreverlove Primo Hoagies are even offering value-packed specials. When it comes down to it, though, the hoagie is still largely an enigma, as filled with mystery as it is meat. During an editorial session that left the Philebs staff as hungry as we were curious, several hoagie-based questions were raised. Here then are the cosmic hoagie mysteries, explained at last:

WTF makes Sarcone's seeded roll the best hoagie roll?

Right? With a crunchy exterior and a soft, doughy inside, the greatest of all hoagie rolls to be served around these parts can be found at Sarcone's Deli. Like the best food magicians, Sarcone's aren't revealing their secrets. However, we're guessing its a combination of proper baking techniques at sister business/roll supplier Sarcone's Bakery, really superb ovens, and... JUST KIDDING. It's the ample use of good old Philadelphia water (prouounced 'wudder' in this case) that makes Sarcone's bread so unforgettable.

What was the first Vietnamese hoagie?

To best answer that question, we are going to point you in the direction of this 2014 NPR piece that explores the history of the sandwich. And for the record, the best Bánh mì sandwich in Philadelphia can be found at StreetSide in NoLibs. [Ed. — This is incorrect but I do not wish to disclose the name of the actual best Bánh mì in Philly to the public, so we'll just let this stand. StreetSide is pretty good, though.]

Just what exactly is in hoagie relish anyway?

A proper hoagie relish should include green peppers, red peppers, yellow onions, kosher salt, cider vinegar, and sugar. Here's the ultimate recipe via Serious Eats. You're welcome.

What's the only local hoagie that shares a name with a gay porn term?

That would be Paesano's Daddy Wad. Ask a bear friend to explain it.

What is the worst hoagie in the world?

Chris Cummins here. I used to work in an industrial park in Northeast Philadelphia. At 11:30 each day, a lunch truck would pull into the parking lot with cauldrons of questionable soups, quick snacks and hastily thrown together sandwiches wrapped in slowly unraveling plastic wrap. During a moment of profound weakness one day in the summer of 2004, I decided to purchase an Italian hoagie from the mobile caterer and was greeted with what is best described as a sandwich of sadness. You know that episode of Newsradio where Bill keeps eating the vending machine sandwiches, or the Simpsons' one where Homer keeps eating his free hoagie well past its expiration date? This one I had was worse, much worse. However I was far too busy eating it to actually look at the thing, whose color was best described as 'rather grey.' I could barely stop dry heaving long enough to finish eating it. That was the worst hoagie in the world. AND SCENE!

Slack's Hoagie Shack: An empire in decline?

We used to be up in Slack's guts constantly, but then we moved on to Sarcone's, then, for reasons unknown, Wawa, followed by our current affair with Primo's. Every now and then we still hit that though. The hoagie business is cyclical, and Slack's is still a delight.

What is the best hoagiefest jam by The Wawa Beatles?

The only possible answer to this is the 2010 Hoagiefest Anthem. That horn solo!

Why is the word "hoagie" the phonetic spirit animal of all Philadelphians? (Sidebar: you can only say the word "hoagiemouth" while actually speaking with hoagiemouth).

It is because the vowel sounds of "o" and "a" are in such close proximity that they trigger some primordial sense memory in longtime Philadelphians that reflexively causes them to pronounce the word oddly. A similar mental phenomenon also causes some locals to steadfastly defend Frank Rizzo to this day. (Oh no, wait: That's racism. That's different. Very different.) 

Primo Hoagies has kinda turned into the Amazon.com of hoagies, but it's hard to hate on them because they are setting the bar in the hoagie game. Thoughts?

At the risk of sounding like a paid shill for Primo's, let us make it perfectly clear that they aren't advertisers and we just love their product. They are getting things more streamlined, and they do lack the personal touch of a Sarcone's or your local pizza shop. But you know what? Deliciousness and value and variety trumps all this. Plus, at the South Street Primo's, they have a full bar. I mean, it's South Street of 2016, but still! Hoagies. Great ones. In a bar. God bless the good ship Philadelphia and all of those who sail upon her.

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