Hoagies revisited (aka Wedge)

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 5 21:16:21 UTC 2003

Dave Wilton said:
>>  Another contribution to our researches into food history.
>>  (Whatever Barry has seems to be catching.)
>>  A week or so ago, Larry Horn called our attention to an
>>  article in the NYTimes Wednesday Food section on the Hoagie.
>>  The article also prompted the following letter, in this
>>  Wednesday's paper:
>>  "Your article . . . and the many names for a sandwich made on
>>  hero bread brought to mind an experience I had in Brooklyn.
>>  I have lived in Yonkers all of my life, and we refer to the
>>  hero/hoagie/grinder/submarine as a wedge.  When I went to a
>>  coffee shop in Brooklyn, they had a sign listing meatballs as
>>  a sandwich special of the day, and I ordered a meatball wedge
>>  and they hadn't a clue as to what I was talking about!  Eric
>>  W. Schoen, Yonkers.  (NYTimes, June 4, 2003, section F, p. 8, col. 6)
>Somewhere in my research on "hoagie" I turned up the fact that "wedge" is a
>regionalism in Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. My notes, however,
>don't contain the source for this fact. Given that, it's not surprising that
>the term might be known in Yonkers but not in Brooklyn--especially nowadays
>as these regionalisms seem to be dying.
>Although somewhat dated now, the Eames and Robboy article has an excellent
>and comprehensive overview of the different regional names for the sandwich.
>Alas, they don't include "wedge."

I'm pretty sure I've heard "wedge" in New Haven. And, I have a vague
recollection of having seen it mentioned in a local feature on
Connecticut vocabulary, perhaps in relation to Bridgeport.

Googling on "Connecticut wedge sandwich" gives 800+ hits (of course
some of them have wedge in a different context, i.e., of lemon). The
top hit was to an FDA product recall from 2000; many different kinds
of "wedge sandwiches" sold under a variety of labels in different
parts of the country were recalled. (I think these were all destined
for convenience stores and/or vending machines, if that makes anyone
feel better.) To the extent that regional usage can be inferred from
the list of distributors, it would be Minnesota. I found another
recall of "wedge sandwiches" marketed in the Puget Sound area.
Whether these pre-packaged wedges bear any resemblance to a
sub/hoagie/wedge I leave to field researchers in these regions, with
the recommendation (based on the recalls) that the field research not
include tasting.

Here's one site asserting that "wedge" is a New Jerseyism:

This site
doesn't give a regional restriction, but *is* copyright Morris County
(NJ) Public Library.

This site <http://members.aol.com/JuvenileHi/NYC.html> records a
Nashville kid's diary (blog?) of a trip to visit his father in the NY
area. It includes the following:

"Me and Dad went driving all over north west Connecticut.  He showed
me where he goes camping.  I ate a genuine New England Wedge.  That's
what they were called in that neck of the woods.  Other places call
them hoagies, grinders, and subs.  Whatever the name, there's nothing
like the ones up north.  So much for my fat-free diet!"

Alice Faber                                             faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories                                  tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                                     fax (203) 865-8963

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