Have you ever heard of a pepperoni roll? If you haven’t, then you’re not from West Virginia.
Pepperoni rolls are a hoagie-style roll with a stick of pepperoni baked inside -- and the result is sweet, golden bread that permeates with the greasy deliciousness of pepperoni. Italian immigrants in north-central West Virginia invented pepperoni rolls for coal miners to eat.
But there was outrage in West Virginia recently when a convenience store chain called Sheetz decided it was going elsewhere for its pepperoni rolls. Sheetz was hit with such a firestorm of criticism on social media that it backtracked and promised that in West Virginia it will sell pepperoni rolls made in West Virginia. Update: Following the widespread public outcry, Sheetz announced on August 17th that they have found a West Virginia bakery that can supply pepperoni rolls to all of its stores in West Virginia. Home Industry Bakery in Clarksburg has been selected as the bakery that will replace Abruzzinos and Rogers and Mazza for pepperoni rolls sales to Sheetz, beginning September 12th.
This week’s show is dedicated to signature foods from W.Va. to NC and OH:
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But there are some pepperoni roll fans in West Virginia who argue that unless you get them from one of the original Italian bakeries, then they’re not the real thing. For that, many people claim you have to travel to the self-proclaimed birthplace of pepperoni rolls – Fairmont, West Virginia.
Our producer, Roxy Todd, journeyed to Fairmont recently to tour the Country Club Bakery. There, she talked with customers who were waiting in line to buy fresh pepperoni rolls, hot out of the oven, and baker Misty Whiteman, who begins her workday at 2:00 a.m:
Also on the Show:
- We travel to the Richwood Ramp Feed, where every spring, a struggling Appalachian community celebrates its abundance of wild ramps. Ramps are wild onions that are the first green vegetable to appear in the forest each spring. They’re said to have health benefits, so they’re sometimes referred to as a “spring tonic” by many Appalachians.
- Imagine a mango combined with a banana and a peach. NPR's Allison Aubrey travels along the banks of the Potomac River outside D.C. to find trees that grow this tasty, secret Appalachian treat. If you've never tasted paw paws, the Ohio Paw Paw Festival is September 11-13.
- This week for What's in a Name? we travel to Paw Paw, West Virginia, a town that takes its name from a tropical-tasting fruit that grows throughout the forests of Appalachia.
Lexington, North Carolina calls itself the barbecue capital of the world. A recent renovation in Lexington’s city hall annex building uncovered something unexpected: the historic barbecue pit of one of the city's most famous barbecue restaurants. WFAE’s Sarah Delia went to Lexington to learn how BBQ connects with the city’s past and present. Lexington also hosts a widely popular barbecue festival coming up later this fall in October.
- "I know there is no such thing as too much barbecue. Good, bad or in-between, old-fashioned pit-smoked or high-tech and modern; it doesn't matter. Existing without gimmickry, without the infernal swindles and capering of so much of contemporary cuisine, barbecue is truth; it is history and home, and the only thing I don't believe is that I'll ever get enough."- writes food critic Jason Sheehan, in a kind of love letter to barbecue. His essay comes to our show thanks to the podcast This I Believe.
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We’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite foods that you remember from childhood? Chat with us on Twitter @InAppalachia. You can also talk with our host, Jessica Lilly, at JessicaYLilly, and our producer, Roxy Todd, at RoxyMTodd. You can also send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, since many of you are podcast fanatics, don't forget on your next roadtrip to check out our sister and brother podcasts from wvpublic.org: Us and Them, The Front Porch, Mountain Stage, and WV Morning.