When you think of heroes, you likely think of overstuffed sandwiches made with a fresh loaf of bread that is filled with savory meats, delicious cheeses, and crisp vegetables. Also known as “hoagies” and “grinders,” depending on your location, heroes are a unique type of deli sandwich that stands apart from basic sandwiches made at home. But where did the idea for heroes originate? 

deli sandwichesThe origins of the hero come from two myths. The first states that it came from the local pronunciation of a Greek sandwich called a gyro. However, the term “hero” as it pertains to the deli sandwich is found as far back as the 1940s, and gyros didn’t make a strong impression on American food culture until the 1960s. Aside from the difference in time, heroes were created by Italians in New York, whereas gyros first gained popularity in Chicago. 

The second myth about the origin of the New York hero came from a 1936 food column by Clementine Paddleworth featured in the New York Herald Tribune. Paddleworth had sampled one of the sandwiches and wrote that you would have to be a hero to eat the whole thing because it was so large. The archives of the New York Herald Tribune are hard to come by, though, so some people dispute this origin story.

Though the exact history of the hero is hard to pin down, nothing much has changed about the sandwich itself over the past 65 years. It’s still giant, and it’s still delicious. 


Craving the taste of a delicious deli sandwich? Visit Fortuna’s Deli & Caterers of Westport in Connecticut for a high-quality meal. Since 1975, they have been creating fantastic burgers, salads, soups, and heroes. To place an order, call (203) 226-­3587, or check out their deli menu on their website today.