Hoagie vs. Sub: What’s the Difference?

It's hard to resist a mile-high sandwich. But what you call it depends mostly on where you're from!

What do you call a long sandwich that contains meat, cheese, condiments, lettuce and other toppings? It really depends on where you grew up. I’ve always called them “subs,” but my parents called them “heroes” or “wedges.” My cousins used the term “hoagies” or “grinders.” You might find yourself wondering whether or not there’s even a difference.

What’s the Difference Between a Hoagie and a Sub?

Though their names are often interchangeable, there actually is a bit of a difference between a hoagie and a sub. A hoagie uses a harder bread and is usually served cold whereas a sub uses a softer one and can be served toasted or cold. A sub’s bread is also fully cut through and a hoagie’s bread is only split.

The main difference you’ll find, though, is the contents inside! Since a hoagie comes from an Italian origin, the contents of this sandwich usually consist of Italian meats and cheeses. On the other hand, subs are normally served with whatever ingredients your heart desires.

Different Names for Sub Sandwiches

Before chain restaurants, each region named their sandwich however they pleased. Over time, the sub (short for “submarine sandwich”) became the most commonly used.

It’s really as simple as that. In some places, subs have kept a regional moniker, so don’t be surprised if you hear one of these names:

  • Grinder: New England
  • Torpedo: Northeast U.S.
  • Italian sandwich: Maine
  • Spuckie: Boston, MA
  • Hoagie: Philadelphia, PA
  • Zeppelin: Pennsylvania
  • Hero: New York
  • Wedge: Yonkers, NY
  • Bomber: Buffalo, NY
  • Blimpie: New Jersey
  • Po’ Boy: New Orleans, LA

It’s all the same sandwich, so long as it’s served up on a split roll. (The legendary Dagwood counts, too.) You’ll even find some regional best sandwiches served on split rolls, like a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia, oyster po’ boys in New Orleans, lobster rolls in Maine and Italian beef in Chicago.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you call ’em. Just grab a long, split roll and pile it high with meat, condiments and vegetables—and you can call it whatever you like!

Make One of Our Favorite Subs
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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially if it provides an opportunity to highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.