East Vs. West: The Great Keystone State Sandwich War

If you're looking to divide the state of Pennsylvania into to two discernible halves, you have to do it by drawing a vertical line straight through the middle of the state, leaving you with Eastern Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania.

Each half is headlined by a different city, with Philadelphia in east and Pittsburgh to the west. The two cities offer up distinct cultures that often find themselves at odds with each other, turning the rest of the state into a battleground pitting the Eagles against the Steelers, Wawa against Sheetz.

But perhaps the most ferocious — and by far the greasiest — is the battle between the Cheesesteak and the Primanti sandwich.

I recently saw this argument raging in the comments of an Instagram post, and it always makes me laugh because it really shouldn't be an argument at all.

The cheesesteak is superior to the Primanti sandwich by lightyears.

Here's a major reason why the cheesesteak is better: I'm not going to bother explaining what a cheesesteak is, but I feel like I probably need to explain the Primanti sandwich.

That's strike one for you yinzers.

Primanti sandwiches originated in The 'Burg at — get this — Primanti Brothers Restaurant. The sandwich consists of any variety of grilled meat, with vinegar based coleslaw, tomato slices and french fires, crammed between two slices of Italian bread.

Adding fries to a sandwich was invented by Primanti Brothers... if you can call that an invention. This was because local steelworkers needed something easy to eat. I guess having separate sandwiches and fries was to tall of an order, so they needed the fries contained in bread.

That's Western PA for you.

Too often when we talk about food we make our decisions based on how the food tastes. That's completely logical as taste is the primary sense you use when eating something. The problem is that what tastes good and what doesn't is completely subjective. What I think is the best tasting food on the planet, may be garbage to your taste buds. In this instance I'm partial to cheesesteaks, but I like both, and that isn't the deciding factor as to why I (correctly) believe that the cheesesteak is the king of sandwiches in the Keystone State.

That's why we need to take a little more time to analyze these two contenders a little deeper than simply taste.

First, let's talk about the creation of the sandwiches. Both cities need to quit acting like birthing a sandwich is as big of an accomplishment as figuring out how time works. It's not that big of a deal.

The reason the cheesesteak gets the edge here is because, a cheesesteak is actually a new item. The Primanti sandwich is nothing but a regular sandwich... with fries on it. Not a whole lot of creativity there Pittsburgh.

I've talked about this before with the Popeye's vs. Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich war, but the most important aspect of a sandwich is structural integrity. The Primanti sandwich is about as successful on this front as the Hindenburg's attempt at landing in Lakehurst.

Like a building, the foundation of a sandwich is key and that foundation is the bread. A proper cheesesteak uses a roll that can withstand the grease of the meat and the gooey-ness of the cheese. The Primanti sandwich, however, opts for spongey Italian bread. This is a perfectly acceptable choice, but it can't handle the stress tests that the Primanti folks put it under.

The bread can handle the meat for a little, but once the coleslaw, tomatoes, and fries join the party, it's over, Johnny.

The bread becomes a soggy mess of vinegar, tomato juice, and fry grease. It never had a chance.

Finally, and perhaps most damning of all, you can actually get a cheesesteak at Primanti Brothers. Here is the menu from the Hershey location:


Do you think you could wander into any cheesesteak joint in Philly and get a Primanti sandwich? Not a chance. They'd throw you out of the restaurant by the belt loops and then yell something about the Eagles.

This is a divisive issue. It's like the abortion of sandwiches. Let me know where you stand in the comments.



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