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Published:April 9th, 2010 11:14 EST
American Junk Food: The Cheesesteak

American Junk Food: The Cheesesteak

By Daniel Mabee

Few things scream "America!" more than steak, Cheez Whiz, or fried vegetables. It`s no surprise, then, that when these things came together to form the cheesesteak, an instant American classic was created. One of the only foods capable of disintegrating the bag around it with grease, the cheesesteak is pure cheesy, meaty goodness.

Of course, it`s hard to think of the legendary sandwich without also thinking of the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. The sandwich first appeared in the early 1930s; the creation is typically credited to two brothers, Pat and Harry Olivieri. The brothers began to sell the steak sandwiches (which then lacked cheese) at a hot dog stand on 9th Street in Philadelphia. The dish was so popular that the family soon raised enough money to open a full restaurant, which still operates today as Pat`s King of Steaks.

Cheese first appeared on the sandwiches shortly thereafter, as a result of customer demand, and the cheesesteak was born. In 1952, Cheez Whiz was added to the list of ingredients at Pat`s, and the sandwich entered its modern era.

The cheesesteak is a point of pride in Philly, and the dish has formed its own miniature culture within the city. You can order a sandwich "wid" or "wit," which means with fried onions, or "Whiz," which means with Cheez Whiz. Some cheesesteak stands, such as Pat`s, even have a set protocols prominently displayed to explain how to order a sandwich.

Any number of variations and toppings can be found on a cheesesteak; the only requirements are cheese, bread, and thinly-sliced steak. If you are in the mood for something spicy, a Buffalo cheesesteak might be more you; if you`re feeling saucy, you might want to go for a pizza steak.

Either way, you`ll be getting a wrapped, delicious piece of Americana.



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