The Hoagie was originally created in Philadelphia. There are a number of different versions to how the Hoagie got its name, but no matter what version is right (historians cannot seem to agree on the correct version), all agree that it started in Philadelphia or the towns' suburbs.
(1) The most widely accepted story centers on an area of Philadelphia known as Hog Island, which was home to a shipyard during World War I (1914-1918). The Italian immigrants working there would bring giant sandwiches made with cold cuts, spices, oil, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and peppers for their lunches. These workers were nicknamed “hoggies.” Over the years, the name was attached to the sandwiches, but under a different spelling.
(2) Another version on this story says that workers at Hog Island did bring this type of sandwich for lunch, but it was never called a hoagie. The story goes, that one day an Irish worker, who everyday carried an American cheese sandwich, looked enviously at his co-workers’ lunches and said; “If you wife will make me one of those things, I’ll buy it from you.” The man went home and said to his wife “Tomorrow, make two sandwiches, one for me and one for Hogan,” his co-worker’s name. So everyone started calling the sandwich “hogans,” which eventually go shorten to hoagie.
(3) In 1925, Augustine DiCostanza and his wife, Catherine, opened their grocery store called A. DiCostanza's grocery store in Chester, Pennsylvania. According the family lore, the grocery store stayed open well past midnight to accomodiate the gamblers who held card games at the Palermo's Bar on the same street. According to Augie DiCostanze, granddaughter of Augustine and Catherine:
"One summer afternoon back in 1925, one of the men who cut the game decided to take a break and he walked into the store to get a pack of cigarettes. Mom was cooking the the back kitchen and the aroma penetrated throughout the store. The aroma apparently whet the man's appetite and he asked Mom if she would make him a sandwich. "OK, pick out what kind of lunchmeat you want," she said. He looked into the case and with an Italian hand waving gesture said: "Put everything you have in the case on it." Mom took a long loaf of Vienna bread, sliced it lengthwise and proceeded to put on all of the lunchmeat. . . . "What are you cooking that smells so good?" the hungry gambler asked. "I'm frying sweet and hot peppers," she replied and without asking she put a few pieces of the pepper on the sandwich. He left and an hour later the place was filled with hungry gamblers asking for a sandwich. Mom sold out of everything that day. It was the beginning of a new creation, soon to become know as the Hoagie."
(4) The last story says that during the Depression (1929-1939), out-of-work Philadelphian Al DePalma went to Hog Island near the naval shipyards to find work. When he saw the workers on lunch bread eating their giant sandwiches, his first thought was, "Those fellas look like a bunch of hogs." Instead of applying for a job at the shipyard, he opened a luncheonette that served these big sandwiches. He listed them on the menu as “hoggies” named for the hogs he saw during that lunch hour.
During the late 1930s, DePalma joined forces with Buccelli’s Bakery and developed the perfect hoagie roll (an eight-inch roll that became the standard for the modern-day hoagie). By World War II during the 1940s, he turned the back room of his restaurant into a hoagie factory to supply sandwiches to workers at the shipyard. DePalma became know as “The King of Hoggies.” At some point after World War II, the “hoggie” became the “hoagie.” It is said that because his customers kept calling them hoagies, he changed the name.
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