May 31, 2023

Local expert explains the popularity behind the 'grinder sandwich'

Last year, the recipe for Italian grinder sandwiches went viral on TikTok. In fact, it was the most-searched recipe on Google in Milwaukee according to Google trends.

Customers at Glorioso's Italian Market have ordered grinders for more than 70 years. But general manager Michael Glorioso says locals have other names for the sandwich.

So, what exactly is a grinder? Glorioso says that it's, "Really, any kind of hot or cold sandwich [that is] served on a grinder roll." Other common regional names for this type of sandwich include hero, hoagie, torpedo, wedge, zep, deli sandwich and sub or submarine sandwich.

These terms are so regionally specific that Glorioso can often tell which part of the country a customer is from based on the name they use to order their sandwich.

"If they say a grinder, I know they're from New England, East Coast. If they say hoagie, they might be from New Jersey. If they say a bomber or something, they're probably from Racine or Kenosha," Glorioso explains.

Whatever a person calls this sandwich, the bread is one of its most crucial components. This is why Glorioso's has their bread freshly baked every day. The outside of the bun needs to be crispy, while the inside of the bread should be soft enough to absorb the oils and condiments from the sandwich. That way, the sandwich doesn't become messy.

Glorioso says the recent social media popularity of the grinder sandwich is a good thing. He says, "I think it's awesome that a new generation of sandwich eaters has been exposed to some of the new things that have been around for a long time, and that's certainly been a boom for us in our business. We've been doing it for a long time."