hero etymology

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Mar 18 20:39:39 UTC 2012

On Mar 18, 2012, at 3:57 PM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

> On 3/18/2012 3:14 PM, Michael Newman wrote:
>> ....
>> 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. ....
> Here is Barry Popik's item:
> http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/hero_sandwich/
> Me, I don't offhand know of any reason to suppose the term is related at
> all to "gyros". Looks like the hero is just heroically big.
> -- Doug Wilson

Interestingly (to me, at least), the earlier definitions culled by Barry seem to involve an either-or, but by the time I began buying and consuming them in the mid 1950s, they were a both- (or rather all-) and: not salami *or* prosciutto *or* other ham or cheese or both, but always all of the above, plus chopped onions and peppers, with a layer of olive oil, and something that was probably sprinkled oregano and maybe other herbs.  Mmmm.  (I don't recall tuna being an option--but maybe I just never asked.  And yes, we always assumed--in both NYC and central Maine (lake district), where the term was also used--that the name referred to anyone (e.g. us) who could eat the whole thing at a single sitting.


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