If you read newspapers, watch television or surf the internet, you’ve surely come across at least one article claiming to list the “best” foods, or at least foods worthy of your attention, across the country.

For sure, different parts of our nation favor different edibles, particularly sandwiches. Even different regions of our commonwealth favor different foods. Everyone in Pennsylvania knows that it’s against the law to leave Philadelphia without sampling a cheesesteak. I’m pretty sure the police conduct breathalyzer tests to detect the odor of thinly sliced beef as you approach the outskirts of town.

When in Pittsburgh, the requirement is for a Primanti Brothers sandwich with coleslaw (not the creamy style) and fries as part of the sandwich filling.

The last time I was on the West Coast, the sandwich hadn’t yet been invented, but I suppose the sandwich of choice there features avocado in one form or another.

In the Midwest, you simply must have a tenderloin sandwich, which has a filling comprised of a flattened pork “tenderloin” breaded and fried and served on a bun that’s smaller than the

meat. Having attended college in Hoosier Land, I developed a preference for dill pickle slices and mustard on my tenderloin. But, to be sure, tomato, lettuce and mayo are quite tasty as toppings, also.

You’ve undoubtedly tried some, many, or all the “sammies” on these “best of the best” rosters.

Naturally, everyone is welcome to disagree with these culinary enumerations because we all have our favorites. Sometimes we long for a sandwich we enjoyed “back in the day.”

Any time I’m in the Midwest neighborhood, I scour menus, looking for a tenderloin sandwich.

So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed them in Missouri, Illinois and South Dakota, in addition to the aforementioned Indiana.

Here in Pennsylvania’s promised land, we have hoagies. You can call them subs or heroes, but real Pennsylvanians know that a hoagie by any name is a hoagie.

Since we’ve grown up eating them, we are cognizant of the fact that not all hoagies are created equal. They must be on the proper roll, with perfectly sliced meats, the freshest of tomatoes

and lettuce, and onions sliced to a correct thickness. Through years of consuming these large, somewhat messy gastronomical treats, we develop our unique preferences.

When I learned that a local church was making and selling “Bigler’s” hoagies, I was more than mildly interested. The Kid is too young to remember Bigler’s store on the corner of Orange and Washington streets, so I enlightened him. “Everyone loved Bigler’s hoagies, especially your Uncle Jim,” I explained. “I’d love to have one again, since it’s been decades. Are you interested?” It really didn’t matter if he was interested or not, I was having one!

I told him about Art Bigler and what a nice, friendly man he was. I explained, “Your Dad’s family grew up in that neighborhood, and the people at the store knew the Thompson kids.”

Last Saturday, we ventured to the church and were greeted by the fragrance of hoagies as we entered the door. The Nephew immediately saw someone he knows. She was buying hoagies.

I immediately saw someone I know, and we greeted each other with a long hug. We ordered our hoagies, turkey for me, ham for the youngster, and chatted with those preparing the sandwiches. Suzann took our money, studied the Kid’s face for a minute and pronounced, “Yep. You’re almost the spittin’ image of your dad.” This choked me up a tad, but I held it together because I had a Bigler’s hoagie in my hand.

That hoagie was wonderful. Maybe there was nostalgia involved, but I think it was the paper thin onion slices. I loved it. I asked the Nephew what he thought. He liked it … a lot.

The church will offer them again next year, I was told. That’s a long time to wait. Good thing the fair isn’t a year away!

And in the meantime, remember Blockbusters from The Treat?

 

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