Subs, Grinders and Hoagies: 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 said “hoagies” or “grinders.” You might find yourself wondering whether or not there’s even a difference.

[Poll]: Do You Talk Like You’re From the South or the Midwest?

Why Do Subs Have All Sorts of Names?

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 sandwich legends 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 Footlongs
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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.