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Editorial: Let's call a sub a sub and move on

Being that the mainstream sandwich press refuses to air my opinions, I have decided to take my fight here, to the Internet. My rejection letters all tell the same story. Sandwich Monthly claims my writing is too “disjointed and unfocused” for their stodgy rag while Bread ’n’ Meat magazine tosses around big words like “nonsensical.” But let’s read between the lines: I’m just too real for them. I’m speaking the truth about sandwiches and these suits in their Wonder Bread towers are feeling the heat. Too toasty for you boys? Well tough, because I’m here to tell the world what the people in the streets are saying about sandwiches and I’m not going away.

So what are these street-folk saying? For one thing, they tell me sandwich naming conventions should be standardized, and I tend to agree. Most people agree that a long, skinny sandwich — that is a sandwich that’s oblong rather than square or round — is called a sub. But somewhere along the way, some troublemakers decided to start calling these submarine-like sandies something else in their hometowns. This has become a big problem in the northeast United States.

According to the font of pure truth called Wikipedia, Philadelphians call subs hoagies and DMX calls them wedges. Where did we go wrong, so that DMX is dictating what Yonkers people call subs? DMX doesn’t even know who Barrack Obama is; why is anyone listening to his crazed opinions on what to call long sandwiches? As I’ve observed, subs are called grinders in central Connecticut, and Brooklynites call them heros. This causes unneeded hassle at best, if not heartache.

As a result of New York City calling subs heros, one can’t order a gyro from a bodega without confusion. As I understand, “gyro” is pronounced something like “yee-row.” But if you order a yee-row at a New York deli, there’s a good chance the guy will ask you “yes, hero, what kind?” and you’ll try to explain the kind with lamb and tzatziki sauce, but he won’t understand. Dammit, why can’t we just call a sub a sub?

Look, Boston — stop calling subs spukies (when I lived there, I never heard anyone say “spukie,” but wikipedia says so, so it’s true). Jersey: although it makes sense, stop calling subs “zeps.” Let me explain:

Right: Zep’s best album is Houses of the Holy.
Wrong: Zeps are best enjoyed with salami and provolone.

I will abide New Orleans calling subs po’ boys because they’ve been through a lot and it’s admittedly a catchy name. But everyone else: a long sandwich is called a sub. Not a cosmo, not an Italian. Those are, respectively, a gay beverage and an ethnicity.

Have I made myself clear?


Michael said…
Here in Denver, I've started seeing a chain popping up called Jersey Mike's Subs. I thought you said Jerseyites called them "zeps." What gives?
Alex Headrick said…
Yes, I saw one of those at Speer and Broadway. Clearly Mike is from Littleton, not Jersey.

[Edit] According to the official Web site, JMS originated on the Jersey Shore, and is therefore authentic. That means either Wikipedia is inaccurate (impossible) or Jersey Mike had the sense to buck Jersey's wrong-headed sandwich-naming scheme and call a sub a sub. Kudos, Jersey Mike!
Alex said…
I'm clicking on random tags whilst bored at work, and "hoagies" caught my eye. Yes, Philadelphians call them hoagies, wiki is right. We also have grinders, but grinders are simply hot hoagies. Are grinders served hot in CT?

About Jersey Mike's - thats an interesting one! If it originated in the Jersey Shore, that's more like Philadelphia than it is like New Jersey...but yet he's not calling it a hoagie either! I think you're right and Jersey Mike just had some common sense!

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