As you order corporate catering in Philadelphia for your business, the first thing that might come to mind is Philly cheesesteaks. This iconic dish features thinly sliced steak with melted cheese on top snuggled in a hoagie roll. Many have come to love this regional delight, but how did the Philadelphia cheesesteak come into being?
Here’s a taste of the history of the Philly cheesesteak, from how it was created to how it grew the fame it has today.
The Creation of the Philly Cheesesteak
The history of the Philly cheesesteak begins not with sandwiches but with hot dogs. In 1930, Pat Olivieri opened a hot dog stand in a busy South Philadelphia neighborhood, but the residents got tired of eating them for lunch every day. He asked his brother Harry to buy some sliced rib-eye steak from the nearby store and grilled it on the griddle as an alternative to the usual hot dogs. After placing the cooked steak and some cooked onions on one of the Italian rolls, a cab driver noticed it and told the brothers that they should sell it instead of their usual offering of hot dogs.
Cheese Is Added to the Sandwich
A crucial ingredient of the Philly cheesesteak wasn’t included until later: the cheese. By this time in the history of Philly cheesesteaks, Pat and Harry Olivieri had opened Pat’s King of Steaks, growing a sizable following. One of their locations on Ridge Avenue had a manager named Joe Lorenzo, who was frequently drunk on the job. However, this man decided to put provolone cheese on the sandwich, thus creating the cheesesteak as it is known today. Since then, other types of cheese have been added, with cheese whiz being one of the more popular choices.
As knowledge of the cheesesteak spread, other establishments have made their own version. One friendly rivalry Pat’s King of Steaks has is across the street at Geno’s Steaks. Some believe that the owner of Geno’s, Joey Vento, was the one who originally first put cheese on the cheesesteak before Pat’s did. Since then, their friendly rivalry, spurred on by the local media, has brought customers to both establishments.
The Cheesesteak Grows Famous
Throughout the history of the Philly cheesesteak, many famous individuals have encountered the King of Steaks. One such individual was Sylvester Stallone during the filming of Rocky in 1975, who wanted to shut down the establishment so they could film in the area; upon reaching an agreement, of course. Afterward, their inclusion in the beloved film has brought many fans to the area to eat at the famous location. Several politicians have also enjoyed this icon of Philly, such as Bill Clinton during his campaign in 1996 and John Kerry, who defied the norm and had his cheesesteak with Swiss cheese instead of provolone or whizz.
As many tourists come to eat at Pat’s King of Steaks during their time in the city, its popularity has cemented it, and the cheesesteak itself, as an iconic part of Philadelphia alongside the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
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