Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pepperoni Rolls

Saturday I made three dozen pepperoni rolls. The pepperoni roll is popular in West Virginia and some nearby regions of the Appalachian Mountains. Ubiquitous in West Virginia (particularly in convenience stores), but traditionally little known elsewhere, it is arguably the food most closely associated with the state (a competitor for this distinction is the ramp). Fairmont, West Virginia, claims the title of 'Pepperoni Roll Capital of the World.'

The classic pepperoni roll consists of a fairly soft white yeast bread roll with pepperoni baked in the middle. The pepperoni can take several forms: a single stick; several folded slices; or shredded or ground meat. During baking, spicy oil from the pepperoni diffuses the bread. Most people prefer the rolls to be moist but not soggy; thus, the texture of the bread is an important factor in the rolls' quality. A typical pepperoni roll weighs about three ounces, and can be eaten as a snack or as the main dish of a lunch.

A popular legend holds that the pepperoni roll was invented in the 1920s by Giuseppe Argiro, owner of the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont. Some historians have disputed this claim. However, it seems highly likely that the dish originated among the coal miners of north-central West Virginia in the first half of the twentieth century. The pepperoni roll bears a resemblance to the pasty and sausage roll, which originated in the mining communities of Great Britain, as well as to the Italian calzone. All these foods allow a miner on a break from a tiring and dirty job to eat a full meal with a minimum of fuss. Pepperoni and other Italian foods became popular in north-central West Virginia in the early 20th century, when the booming mines and railroads attracted many immigrants from Italy.


Blogger Bob Heffner said...

Nice batch of pepperoni rolls!

Bob Heffner

10:48 AM  
Blogger john said...


4:02 PM  

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