John Ayto's book on food words is infinitely better than the recent

LADYFINGERS; Ayto says the meaning of "hoagie" is a mystery, while the latter

book didn't mention it at all.

In my limited time for research, I can clearly discount the

"hokey-pokey" derivation cited previously in a book by the Library Company of

Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Philadelphia. Didn't they do ANY

"hoagie" research?

If they did, they should have found this in Philadelphia magazine,

November 1970, page 82:


A gastronomic quest for the

perfect hoagie unearthed

one runny exemplar

and 11 slippery also-rans


(...) Before setting out in actual quest of the perfect hoagie, we had to

determine what the perfect hoagie is. But first, a little history: the

origin of the name "hoagie" is the subject of bitter debate among people who

can get excited about that sort of thing. The oldest legend has it that the

Italian workers laboring at Hog Island--near the present Naval Base during

World War I--took their lunches to work inside large Italian breads. From

Hog Island came "hoggie," which in time was corrupted to "hogie" and then

turned into "hoagie." Field research has shown that several older shops in

South Philadelphia still advertise their specialty as "hogies," which clamps

down the case right there.

The hoagie, by the way, has spread to other localities where its

etymology has been somewhat corrupted. In New England it's called a grinder;

in New York it's a submarine--sub for short--or hero sandwich; in Reading

it's known as an Italian sandwich and in the Lancaster area it's a zep.

Thus, it's a simple transition from Hog Island to "hogie"--which should

be "hoggie" but became "hoagie."

Too bad; I liked the strip club "ho" etymology. Oh well.

This is from the Philadelphia magazine "Dining Out" for August 1972, page


One last place we know for particular tastes is the takeout counter at

Woolworth's, 1330 Chestnut Street. Woolie's makes an ultra-cheap 45-cent

hoagie filled with the most ordinary ingredients, sliced razor-thin. It

should taste awful, but somehow it doesn't. It's one of the most popular

items on their menu, sampled by every one from business executives to

down-and-outs, We personally know one editor of a famous magazine who

occasionally passes up the $5 Big Lunch to have a Woolie's hoagie. For

another 20 cents, you can get the jumbo size with twice as many razor-thin

ingredients, but it really doesn't taste any better.

R.I.P. to the Woolie's hoagie.

Tempus fugit.