Here's How National Cheesesteak Day Was Invented

Are you partial to hot sandwiches stuffed with thin-sliced steak and onions that have been grilled to their caramelized sweet spot before being topped with gooey, melted cheese? If so, then you may want to bear in mind that March 24 is the day "officially" set aside to celebrate and consume Philly cheesesteaks (or, as they're known in Philadelphia, "cheesesteaks") with abandon.  

Even if you were "today years old" when you found out that such a day exists, you should feel no less entitled to go out and grab yourself a cheesesteak than if you had been looking forward to this day since National Margarita Day had you hankering for a savory snack. In fact, so many of these "national whatever days" have been designated since the heyday of this practice in the mid-1980s (via NPR) that no one can reasonably expect you to keep up. That's why National Day Calendar, National Today, and others have cropped up. They keep track of this information for you and even offer clues as to how certain days earned their unique status. So, how did National Cheesesteak Day, specifically, come into being?

National Cheesesteak Day is rooted in Depression-Era Philadelphia

National Cheesesteak Day exists because the cheesesteak is so beloved, and has been for so long, that if someone hadn't already thought of it, someone else would have had to. In other words, since 1930, the "technical" year of cheesesteak's birth, according to Penn State University, every day has been "cheesesteak day" in Philadelphia, and it was only a matter of time before the love of this "hot beefy sandwich" spread throughout the nation. 

The cheesesteak sandwich was the brainchild of South Philly hotdog shop owners Harry and Pat Olivieri, who, one day in 1930, just couldn't deal with another hotdog for lunch. So they bought some beef, grilled it up along with some sliced onions, and ate it like a hotdog (which is to say, in a long, narrow roll), but not before the aroma of sizzling meat and onions attracted the attention of a cab driver, who went on to spread the word. 

Although cheese wasn't on the original sandwich, it's been intrinsic to the cheesesteak experience since 1952, which brings us to "National Cheesesteak Day 2022" — or if you happen to be near Philadelphia International Airport, "National Cheesesteak Week," per Airport X News, as this entire week will be known to commuters. Although no one seems to be able to pinpoint exactly what year cheesesteaks got their national day, we'd bet that no one in the process of actually eating a cheesesteak has ever been known to care.