A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 08, 2009
Zeppelin Sandwich (Zep Sandwich)

Entry in progress—B.P.

The long list of the names of sandwiches served on long rolls includes blimpie, bomber, Cuban (medianoche), Dagwood, garibaldi, gondola, grinder, hero, hoagie, Italian, jawbreaker, muffuletta, peacemaker (La Mediatrice), pilgrim, pistolette, po’ boy (poor boy), rocket, skyscraper, spiedie, spucky (spuckie, spukie), submarine (sub), torpedo, torta (Mexican po’ boy) and wedge.

Wikipedia: Submarine sandwich
A submarine sandwich, also known as a sub, grinder, hero, hoagie, Italian sandwich, po’ boy, wedge, zep, or torpedo, is a popular Italian American sandwich that consists of an oblong roll, often of Italian or French bread, split lengthwise either into two pieces or opened in a “V” on one side, and filled with various meats, cheeses, vegetables, spices, and sauces. The sandwich has no apparent generic name, and major US cities have their own names for it. The usage of the several terms varies regionally but not in any pattern, as they have been used variously by the people and enterprises who make and sell them. The terms submarine and sub are widespread and not assignable to any certain region, though many of the localized terms are clustered in the northeast United States, where the most Italian Americans live.
(...)
. Zeppelin (shaped like a zeppelin) — New Jersey; Phoenixville, PA and Norristown, PA.
(...)
Zep
A standard zep contains only cooked salami and provolone as the meat and cheese, and includes no lettuce.

18 May 1936, Portsmouth (OH) Times, pg. 12 photo caption:
NOW, ZEPPELIN SANDWICHES!—Zeppelin sandwiches make their appearance at the California Pacific International exposition in San Diego as the fair’s management opened negotiations to charter the giant German Zeppelin, the von Hindenburg, for a round trip between Germany and San Diego this summer. Valerie Lincoln samples the latest substitute for a “full dinner pail.”

23 January 1948, New Castle (PA) News, pg. 16, col. 2 ad:
Try the New Giant
Zep Sandwich
(The Town Pump—ed.)

8 May 1958, Blytheville (AR) Courier News, “Hero Sandwich Ideal for Parties” by Cecily Brownstone (Associated Press Food Editor), pg. 12. cols. 3-4:
A MAMMOTH-SIZE sandwich has been getting around under a lot of aliases. Call it a hero, jawbreaker, grinder, submarine, wedgie, poor boy, hoagy, dagwood, zep, gondola, torpedo, gismo, or BIG SANDWICH. It all depends on where you live. But one thing is certain, this sandwich is made from an individual loaf of French or Italian bread—white or whole wheat—or a long loaf of the same, cut into shorter lengths.

Its filling is something out of this world—a mountain of savory foods to dream about. Ham, salami, bologna, head cheese are some of the meats that may be piled on top of each other, layer on layer. Tuna fish, smoked salmon, anchovies might be the layers of fish. Next comes cheese. Then vegetables—green peppers (raw or roasted), pimiento, raw onion, tomato, lettuce. Olives and pickles give everything extra savor. No law says you have to include all these; that’s the best part of these structures—you can choose your favorites for the filling.

4 June 1959, Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, ID), “Men Will Like This Sandwich,” pg. 23:
A sandwich inspired by the Graf Zeppelin has won recognition for a Norristown, Pa., restaurant man, Joseph Barone.

His hearty concoction vied against over 800 entries in the National Sandwich Idea Contest to place among the 20 Best Sandwiches of 1959.

Three variations of the “Zep Sanndwich” are featured on the menu of Barone’s Gate Canteen in Norristown. The original large “Zep” with its filling of salami, cheese, onion and tomato is served on a 10-inch loaf of hearth-baked Italian bread.

In Barone’s words, “It’s large enough to satisfy the entire family, or party guests.”

He sells half-sizes of the large “Zeps” to hungry construction workers and employes of two textile plants near his restaurant. The small “Zep on a Bun” proves popular with feminine customers.
(The same recipe as the next two citations—ed.)

27 September 1959, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Sandwich” by Marian Manners, pg. J48:
Zep Sandwich on a Bun—4 French or Italian rolls. 4 thin slices Provolone cheese, 8 thin slices salami, 4 thin slices onion. 4 large tomato slices, Salad oil…

25 January 1960, Tap & Tavern, pg. 8, col. 4:
Zep Sandwich Champ
HERE’S ANOTHER of the 20 Best Sandwiches of 1959, elected by the School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University, in a contest sponsored in the food service industry by Wheat Flour Institute and the National Restaurant Association.

ZEP SANDWICH ON BUN
(makes 4 sandwiches)
4 Italian-style hearth baked buns*
4 thin slices Provolone cheese
8 thin slices salami
4 large tomato slices
Salad Oil
Crushed oregano
Dash salt
Crushed cherry peppers (optional)

Split buns. Place cheese on bottom half. Add 2 slices salami, then onion slice and tomato slice. Sprinkle with (Col. 5—ed.) salad oil, oregano and salt. Add a teaspoon of crushed hot peppers, if desired. Cover with bun tops.
*Enriched hamburger buns may be substituted.

29 August 1960, Tap & Tavern, pg. 8, col. 1:
Big Zep Sandwich
Brings Customers

ONE WAY TO STIMULATE business is to offer potential customers something they find it hard to duplicate—either at home or any other place. A case in point is the license who introduced Zeps (or hoagies)--already popular in many areas—in his neighborhood.

He did it with a bang—featuring ten-inch Italian rolls, two kinds of salami (three slices of cooked and three of hard salami), two slices of Italian cheese, three slices of tomato (all generous portions), a large scoop of shredded onions, and imported olive oil for a dressing. Hot pepper is optional. The sandwich weighs more than ten ounces.

A variation on the theme is a Zep featuring baked ham, or pork, selling for slightly more.

Not long after he started, the proprietor was averaging more than 100 Zeps a day, decidedly above average for the small community in which he operates, and they have contributed greatly to his bar volume and profits.

About 60 percent of his Zeps are for take-out, and this has increased his sales of carry-home beer. He frequently delivers the sandwiches to workers in nearby plants and, as a result, builds up additional potential volume in bar sales.

Whether it’s the Zep or something entirely different, introducing something new in your area of operations is a sure key to profits.

4 August 1977, Washington (DC) Post, “Please Pass the Subs--Er, Hoagies, Er...,” pg. E10:
Submarine, he (Howard Robboy of Temple University, who wrote an American Speech article on sandwich names—ed.) found, is the most popular name for the sandwich, followed by hoagie, poor boy and grinder. In some cities they go by more than one name, such as Philadelphia, where one finds both hoagies and submarines. Other names are torpedo (Reno, San Antonio, San Diego), Italian sandwich (Louisville, Reading, Allentown), hero (New York City and Newark), rocket (Cheyenne and Cincinnati), bomber in Buffalo, mufalatta in New Orleans, Cuban sandwich in Miami, wedgie in Weschester County, N. Y. and slame in Berkeley. Norristown is the only place it is referred to as a zeppelin, and Madison the only place one finds it as a garibaldi.

27 April 1978, Christian Science Monitor, “Heroic as applied to a sandwich” by J. Lee Anderson, pg. 18:
The supersandwich, depending where in the country you happen to live, is variously known as Submarine, Torpedo. Hoagie, Poor Boy, Grinder, Rocket, Bomber, Zeppelin, and what may be most appropriate for this heroic-sized masterpiece, Hero.

Philadelphia (PA) Magazine
Lou’s Sandwich Shop
Best of Philly 2007: Sandwich

No overstuffed two-meal belly-buster sandwiches at Lou’s. The Zep is a simple sandwich: five thin slices of cooked salami, two slices of provolone cheese, raw onion, tomato, oil, and lots of oregano, on a soft round roll from Conshohocken Italian Bakery — and as usual, the bread makes the sandwich. Lou’s has been at it since 1941, and may have invented this sandwich, depending on whom you believe. Wherever it started, it’s perfect for a lunch bite and all but impossible to find outside of the once-Italian-immigrant enclave of Norristown.
414 East Main Street
Norristown, Pennsylvania 19401
610-279-5415


Philadelphia (PA) City Paper - Meal Ticket blog
posted by Felicia D’Ambrosio on Monday, October 13th, 2008 at 12:17 pm
Beautiful Sandwich: The Norristown Zep
When is a hoagie not a hoagie? When it’s a hero, sub, submarine, zeppelin or grinder. And especially when it’s a zep. This Norristown creation possesses subtle but crucial differences from lookalike sandwiches. A true zep contains only one meat and one cheese — and lettuce is absolutely forbidden under any circumstances.

Eve’s Lunch in Norristown, which is often credited with inventing the zep, still turns out the standard-setting sandwich to much local acclaim. Eve Mashett has operated the business since 1965, when she bought the sandwich shop Linfante’s from Joseph Linfante, her employer of 10 years. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, June 08, 2009 • Permalink