hero etymology

Michael Newman michael.newman at QC.CUNY.EDU
Sun Mar 18 19:14:52 UTC 2012

The earliest cite I found in the ADS-L archive for "hero sandwich" in what I think is NYC or Long Island (based on Child's) is the following 2003 post by Sam Clements for 1939


> I don't want to steal any of Barry's thunder, but his recent diatribe
> against the NYT shafting him once again, got me searching.
> Ancestry.com, from The Charleston(WV) Daily Mail, June 23, 1939,  page
> 5/column 4:
>      Tastiest tidbits on the Island are toasted rolls and bacon at Child's,
> the clams and shrimp cocktails at the Clam Bar, the honey buns at Hirsch's,
> the shashlik, fried shrimp, fried clams and chow mein on the boardwalk, the
> sunshine cocktail and shore dinner at Scoville's, the Hero Sandwich (a loaf
> of Italian bread with ham and Swiss, American or Bel Paese cheese), and, of
> course the hot corn and frankfurters all along the route.
> I have no doubt that Barry has searched ancestry for this, but the damn
> search engine requires skill, art, luck, and.......most of all luck.

I'm wondering about the origin of the term. It seems unrelated to the Greek gyro given the presence of cold cuts and cheese. I'd like to speculate that it began as a marketing term based on the large size or something. Not convinced though. 

Michael Newman
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Queens College/CUNY
michael.newman at qc.cuny.edu

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list