The Sandwich So Good It Has Its Own Fair

Philadelphia is home to the cheesesteak; Chicago celebrates Italian beef (especially since the success of The Bear); New Orleans proudly serves its po' boy; and Binghamton boasts ... the spiedie. If you don't know what a spiedie is, a) you're clearly not from Upstate New York and b) your loss. Technically, the spiedie was born outside of Binghamton, in the town of Endicott (per Atlas of Popular Culture in the Northeastern U.S.), but it's been adopted and celebrated in the general area to great acclaim. The backstory is a bit contested, but everyone agrees that the sandwich started in the 1930s with Italian immigrants to the Southern Tier region of New York State, who marinated their meat in a sort of Italian dressing, grilled it to charred perfection, and then added some bread for good measure.

Why "spiedie?" The word has nothing to do with speed; it comes from the Italian word "spiedo" meaning a kitchen spit. Skewered meat placed on a spit is a "spiedino." Spiedies are a deceptively simple sandwich: just meat and Italian bread or a hoagie roll; that's it. Broome County natives know that they need no accompaniment — it's only the uninitiated who try to add cheese or other toppings (via Bon Appetit). 

The first spiedies were made with chunks of lamb, and while those are still considered the original, fully authentic variations are now made with all kinds of meat: beef, pork, and chicken spiedies are now given equal playing time.

The humble favorite at the center of a three-day extravaganza

The true key element is the marinade; while spiedies can be cooked quickly, they need at least a day to marinade, and true believers insist on three days (via Bon Appétit).

In and around Binghamton, the sandwiches abound (per Sandwich Tribunal). While many people start their spiedies from scratch, busy folks and transplants to other parts of the country count on the prepackaged marinades that rival spiedie legends Lupo's and Salamida's provide for their authentic flavor. Many supermarkets — especially New York-based Wegmans – carry them (as does Amazon, of course). 

The spiedie is so popular that there is even a three-day festival celebrating them: every year, Binghamton welcomes Spiedie Fest in early August. The festival welcomes local and far-flung friends to a celebration featuring hot air balloons, music, and other local favorites as well as the sandwich itself. Spiedie Fest started as a competitive cook-off for both amateur and professional skewer-makers, and the idea took off. As Rick Dodd, one of the spiedie judges, explained to Binghamton Homepage, "There's so much to do. We have great sports; we have great concerts, and this is a huge event that a lot of places don't ever get to see and to see balloonists from all over the world, literally, and bands that are pretty famous, and just enjoy the day."

Skewered meat: bringing people together over a flame for thousands of years. Now featuring music, balloons, and more. Thanks, spiedie!