Sayres – History of the Pepproni Roll

The peperoni roll is a stable in the state of West Virginia and Appalachia as a whole. It has a long standing tradition that few outside of Appalachia can fully understand unless they experience the love of the simple food that those within the Appalachian states do. Our final mutli-media project was focused around this unique food, it’s history, and it’s cultural impact in the state of West Virginia. The final project can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3z0Quvvl2g

We first started our project by delving into the history of the peperoni roll. One cannot fully understand the importance of this food without understanding it’s history. The date the peperoni roll was invented is under some investigation because many cannot agree on it’s exact date, however, all agree that this delicious treat was originally concocted by a man named Giuseppe Argiro in Fairmont, WV. It is believed that it was created sometime in the first half of the 20th century. Miners in West Virginia were extremely poor. Also, the majority of miners in West Virginia were of Italian heritage. They would often bring bread and pepperoni for their lunch while working in the mines. Argiro had the brilliant idea to mass produce bread that already had the pepperoni inside of it. While this may be a very simple invention, it gained popularity with the miners extremely fast. It is not only a tasty food, but it also serves a very practical purpose. It provided the miners with the protein, calories, and carbohydrates that they needed to live while working in the grueling conditions deep underground in the coal mines.

The food became a tradition over the years and grew to become a favorite of the average Joe in West Virginia; not just those who worked in the coal mines. Once you have an understanding of the origins of the pepperoni roll it is not hard to understand why they have become such an important part of the culture in West Virginia. If the state had an official food, it would without a doubt be the pepperoni roll.

The pepperoni roll did not only become a part of Appalachian culture, but it also helped the Italian immigrants working in the mines to preserve their proud Italian heritage. It offered them an opportunity to eat traditional foods of their homeland in a new and unique way. The people of West Virginia view themselves as hard working, blue collar people with a proud history. Anything associated with the mining history of the state is sure to bring pride into the hearts and minds of West Virginians; this is why it is easy to see how the pepperoni roll became a staple within the state in such a short period of time.
Pepperoni rolls are virtually unknown to those who do not live within what is considered to be Appalachia. I am from Eastern Pennsylvania and I had never heard of the pepperoni roll. However, when I came to West Virginia University everyone from the western part of the state had. I was very surprised to see just how much the pepperoni roll meant to those living in areas with coal mining history. This food is something that should be experienced by all. It is a staple of Appalachia, which is unknown outside of the region, but all could appreciate the pepperoni rolls taste and significance if there were more understanding of the product. This is why we chose to showcase the history of the pepperoni roll; to allow those who have not experienced it for themselves to truly appreciate its symbolism and importance to the state of West Virginia and Appalachia as a whole.

The following link is to a website that illustrates the history of the pepperoni roll and its importance to West Virginia. It also emphasizes Fairmont’s role in the creation of this treat. http://www.bobheffner.com/pepperoniroll/
This link is to a cooking website that teaches one how to make the pepperoni roll at their own home. http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,pepperoni_rolls,FF.html
The final link is to a website of a woman that is on the pursuit of the best pepperoni roll in America. http://chickensintheroad.com/cooking/in-pursuit-of-the-perfect-pepperoni-roll/

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