According to Food blogger Hoagie_don, hoagie purists say that mayonnaise has no place on a hoagie and if you slather it on, you can no longer call it a hoagie. They say the only condiments that belong on a hoagie are oil and vinegar.
“Hoagies were meant to be simple. Meat, cheese, little garden topping, little O&V, all on a good crusty seeded roll. You can’t beat it. People see mayo as a disruptor. The thing that doesn’t belong” he said.
Hoagie_don sites the history of the hoagie as the basis of his argument. If you look into the history of the hoagie, there are several different stories regarding its origin. The most popular theory is that the hoagie was invented by South Philadelphia shipbuilders.
Encyclopedia Britannica says “Italian immigrants who worked at the Hog Island shipyard began making sandwiches; they were originally called “hoggies” before the name hoagie took hold.”
Can a sandwich still be considered a hoagie if you put mayo on it?
If that’s truly where the hoagie came from, then it makes sense that mayonnaise was not an original ingredient. Mayo doesn’t have a great shelf life especially under extreme conditions like that of a shipyard. Does that mean that modern hoagies can’t have mayo?
Food blogger Josh Moore of Josh Eats Philly understands the affinity for mayonnaise but doesn’t think it belongs on hoagies. He says the condiments should be kept at a minimum and the ingredients should speak for themselves, especially when it comes to Italian hoagies.
“If you have a hoagie with very high-quality meats and quality cheese, I feel like the mayonnaise may distract from that. Something plain and simple, like oil and vinegar, can highlight the flavors of the meats and cheeses. Mayonnaise can dampen that flavor. You want sharpness of the flavors to really shine,” he said.
It seems as though much of the debate centers around the Italian hoagie, typically made up of salami, ham and (a spicy pork shoulder). When it comes to other varieties like turkey, tuna or corned beef, it’s more about preference.
“Meats like turkey are not as fatty like a pork or salami might be, having that mayo would give it that extra bit of fat that it probably needs, Moore said.
People in Philadelphia are known for speaking their mind and telling it like it is, even when it comes to food. According to Wawa’s website, they sell about 6 million hoagies a year and it’s hard to imagine calling them anything other than a hoagie, no matter which side of the mayonnaise debate you are on.