Few things in New Jersey ignite a more contentious debate than what to call the long sandwich known as a “sub” in North Jersey and a “hoagie” in South Jersey. Well, a Jersey guy named Steve Chernoski endeavored to create a complete map of what sandwiches are called (chains excluded). Here’s what Steve had to say about it:

Q: Where did the idea to do this come from?
A: I spent many years collecting information for a documentary film, New Jersey: the Movie. But much of that was before the era of "big data." Then a paper by Dale F. Coye called "Dialect Boundaries in New Jersey" was introduced to me and his hoagie-sub map was all over the place, which helped explain why I had such a difficult time with it originally when I was surveying people on the road. So I was curious if some of the guesstimates that we made in the film could be better measured now.

Q: How did you go about it? What was your methodology?
A: My measuring tool was simply menus. These were found online from Garden State pizza shops, delis and other restaurants and using websites like Google Maps, Yelp and Facebook. Whenever a certain word for a sandwich dominated a menu, that's what I used. I did my best to source every pin on the map. It is not as easy to galivant across the state like when I was younger, so something I could measure from home was certainly welcome. Not every place has a menu online though.

Q: Any surprises? Any findings defy your expectations?
A: I was very surprised at the number of "heroes" (or is it heros)? I knew already it was mostly a Bergen County and NYC thing, but it went beyond just Bergen County. Also lot of the transition zones up in North Jersey, used the very diplomatic, "sandwiches" as their term of choice. I had to make sure it wasn't an open-faced or kaiser roll sandwich either and that they meant a hoagie-hero-sub roll. This was a big reason Diners weren't as reliable for the purposes of this map. Many eateries in the transition zones also used a combination of both terms, especially in Mercer County and deep South Jersey. And Cape May County is pretty much a hoagie island!

Steve also tells us he tried to avoid chains (think: Wawa) with locations spread out across New Jersey, to avoid muddying things up with non-local references.

I definitely see some movement from Coye's original findings almost a decade ago, if readers are to believe that menus are a reliable linguistic marker. Sometimes you get a restaurateur who moves from Hackensack to Flemington and all of a sudden there's heroes in Hunterdon County!

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