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The Modest Pepperoni Roll Abides

West Virginians, or at least fans of the Mountain State’s pepperoni roll, are basking in the glory of the savory food’s victory in the CQ Roll Call Taste of America competition.

The winner, announced at Thursday’s 52nd Annual Congressional Baseball Game, rose above the rest of the Elite Eight: Iowa bacon, Arizona chimichangas, Illinois Italian beef, Maryland crab cakes, South Carolina shrimp and grits, Oregon pear tarts and Georgia peach cobbler.

Voting seems to be similar to that of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Some states have inherent advantages, kind of like the New York Yankees’ and Los Angeles Dodgers’ big-market reach. But the whole point is to have fun and introduce people to foods they might not normally try.

“I’ll eat one of your [chimichangas] if you eat some Georgia cobbler,” Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., offered to HOH at the Taste of America soiree.

Some of the crowd might have been a little perplexed at the success of the modest pepperoni roll, a humble pastry-protein combo first developed, as legend has it, by Frank Argiro in the 1920s. Argiro, an Italian-American coal miner, happened upon the idea of baking small slices of pepperoni into Italian rolls so he and his fellow miners could easily transport their lunch down into the mines. It was successful enough that he opened up the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, W.Va., which operates to this day.

When reached for comment by HOH, the woman at the Country Club Bakery asked us to hold on for a minute, put the phone down, took a few orders from customers — “Two dollars? And eight cents? Oh, that’s right,” HOH overheard — then picked the phone back up and said, “You’re going to have to call back on Monday. That’s when the manager gets back.” Before we could get a name, she hung up the phone.

So it is: the allure of the mysterious pepperoni roll. Stay tuned.

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