A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 17, 2005
Binghamton: Spiedie
The "spiedie" is a Binghamton specialty, taken by immigrants from Italy. I looked through the telephone directories for the earliest citations.

The long list of the names of sandwiches served on long rolls includes blimpie, bomber, Cuban (medianoche), Dagwood, garibaldi, gondola, grinder, hero, hoagie, Italian, jawbreaker, muffuletta, peacemaker (La Mediatrice), pilgrim, pistolette, po' boy (poor boy), rocket, skyscraper, spucky (spuckie, spukie), submarine (sub), torpedo, torta (Mexican po' boy), wedge and zeppelin (zep).

Wikipedia: Spiedie
The spiedie (IPA: /spɪdɪ/) is a dish local to Greater Binghamton in the Southern Tier of New York State, and somewhat more broadly known and enjoyed throughout Central New York state. Spiedie consists of cubes of chicken and pork, but it may also be made from lamb, veal, venison or beef. The meat cubes are marinated overnight or longer (sometimes for as long as two weeks under a controlled environment) in a special spiedie marinade, then grilled carefully on spits (if steel skewers are used, they are called "spiedie irons") over a charcoal pit. The freshly prepared cubes are served on soft Italian bread or a submarine roll, skewer and all, then drizzled with fresh marinade. The roll is used as an oven glove to grip the meat while the skewer is removed. Spiedie meat cubes can also be eaten straight off the skewer or can be served in salads, stir fries, and a number of other dishes. The marinade recipe varies, usually involving olive oil, vinegar, and a variety of Italian spices and fresh mint.

Spiedie has been celebrated at the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally in Binghamton, New York, every August, since 1983. The annual event includes a spiedie cook-off in search of the best spiedie recipes. The spiedie and the Spiedie Fest were featured on an episode of The Food Network's "Unwrapped".

Commercial marinades are available regionally and can be ordered from various internet websites for shipment throughout the world.

The original idea for spiedie was brought by Italian immigrants to Upstate New York in the early 1920s. The specific origin of the spiedie is disputed. Two men – Agostino "Augie" Iacovelli and Peter Sharak – are credited with the creation of the spiedie.

Iacovelli, from Endicott, New York, began serving spiedie sandwiches in 1939 when he opened Augie's, his first restaurant. He emigrated from Abruzzo, Italy (Civitella Casanova) at the age of 25 in 1923. His son Guido continued in the spiedie business into the 1990s, owning as many as 26 restaurants at the peak of his career.

Sharak is also supposed to have invented spiedies. Apparently, patrons of Sharkey’s Bar and Grill were served lamb straight from the grill on its metal skewer with slices of bread. Sharkey's promotes itself as the birthplace of the sandwich in television commercials across the greater Binghamton area.

Though the issue is disputed, Sharkey’s began serving spiedies in 1947, which makes Iacovelli more likely to have invented the dish first.

The term "spiedie" comes from the Italian "spiedo," meaning "spit." Traditionally the early Broome County spiedie was made only from spring lamb, but currently most commercial restaurants prepare spiedie using chicken or pork. The "chicken category" was added to the Spiedie Fest cook-off in 1987, and quickly became the most popular meat choice. The regional dish in Abruzzo, Italy most closely resembling spiedie uses goat meat. Another regional dish from Sicily, "zúzzu," consists of a gelatinous sausage made from the cartilage of pork and beef meat that is usually served cut into cubes.

Iacovelli's marinade, which he called "Zuzu," originally was made simply from wine vinegar, water, lemon juice, garlic and mint. Italian spices, olive oil and minced onion were added later as regional tastes and the choice of meat began to vary.

One of the restaurants most famous for spiedies today, Lupo's Char-Pit, was established in 1967 by John, Sam, and Bart Lupo in Endwell, New York.

In 1975, Rob Salamida began bottling spiedie sauce for sale. His company now produces and sells Salamida's State Fair Spiedie Sauce from a 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) facility in Johnson City, New York and states that it has sold over 2 million bottles.


1943-1944, BINGHAMTON (NY) YELLOW PAGES, pg. 51, col. 1 ad:
Italian Hot Pies
Spaghetti -- Cocktail Bar -- Dancing
All Endicott Busses Stop At Door
Geo F Highway Endicott...Endct-1486

1948-1949, BINGHAMTON (NY) YELLOW PAGES, pg. 125, col. 1:
423 Court...Bngtn 2-9876

1948-1949, BINGHAMTON (NY) YELLOW PAGES, pg. 126, col. 1:
Di Stefano Bowling Alleys
Spiedi & Pizza - Italian Hot Pies
224 Henry... Bngtn 2-9702

1949, BINGHAMTON (NY) YELLOW PAGES, pg. 126, col. 3:
110 Clinton...Bngtn 2-9653

1953-1954, BINGHAMTON (NY) YELLOW PAGES, pg. 123, col. 3:
Upr Court (On the old highway)...2-9790
Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesNew York State • Sunday, April 17, 2005 • Permalink