New Jersey hoagie

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed Nov 13 18:36:00 UTC 2002

> According to a display on the "Shipbuilding" exhibit in the Franklin
> Institute (museum) in Philadelphia, the "hoagie" is named after
> Philadelphia's "Hog Island" shipyards, for whose workforce
> the hoagie was a
> favorite item of sustenance.
> I've never been able to check out this claim, but if it is true then
> Philadelphians can argue that a hoagie is a sandwich
> constructed on the
> Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River and therefore "New
> Jersey hoagie" is
> an oxymoron.  South Jersey will presumably have to be
> satisfied with salt
> water taffy, monkey bread, and other local foods not claimed
> by Pennsylvania.
>       - Jim Landau (resident of South Jersey for 16 years)

The Hog Island explanation is perhaps the most commonly touted one. I've
done some checking and I doubt that it's true. I can't conclusively disprove
it, but I've found a more likely one.

Barry Popik has traced "hoagie" to 1945 and the variants "hoogie" & "hoggie"
to 1941 (See ADS-L archives). The Hog Island shipyard only operated from
1917-25, and from 1920-25 it was in the process of shutting down and was not
employing large numbers of workers. The brief period of operation and the
gap in years before the term's appearance makes the Hog Island explanation

More probable is the claim of coinage by Al De Palma. De Palma owned a chain
of sub shops in Philly and styled himself "King of the Hoagies." He claims
to have coined the term "hoggie" in 1928 when he saw a friend eating one,
so-named because he thought his friend was being a hog in eating the whole
thing. De Palma opened his first sandwich shop in 1936, recalled the name he
had given it and started selling "hoggies." The spelling later shifted to
"hoagie," probably by competitors. (Eames & Robboy, AS, 1967)

The De Palma 1936 sub shop opening is much closer in date to the term's
earliest known appearance, his claim is orthographically consistent with the
earliest forms, and it is semantically similar to the synonym "hero" in that
it is a reference to the sandwich's size.

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