It is a king-sized sandwich on an Italian loaf of bread approximately 12 inches long an 3 inches wide, filled with boiled ham, hard salami, cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and sometimes flavored with garlic and oregano. It is thought that the original concept of these sandwiches came from the Italians who immigrated to New York in the late 1800s and brought with them their favorite Italian Sandwich recipes.
1910 - The family of Dominic Conti (1874-1954) claims he was the first to use the name, submarine sandwich. Angela Zuccaro, granddaughter of Dominic, related the following information:
"My grandfather came to this country circa 1895 from Montella, Italy. Around 1910, he started his grocery store, called Dominic Conti's Grocery Store, on Mill Street in Paterson, New Jersey where he was selling the traditional Italian sandwiches. His sandwiches were made from a recipe he brought with him from Italy which consisted of a long crust roll, filled with cold cuts, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a layer of cheese and ended with a layer was cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t get soggy).
My mother often told me about how my grandfather came to name his sandwich the Submarine. She remembered the incident very well, as she was 16 years old at the time. She related that when grandfather went to see the Holland I* in 1927, the raised submarine hull that was put on display in Westside Park, he said, “It looks like the sandwich I sell at my store.” From that day on, he called his sandwich the “submarine.” People came from miles around to buy one of my Grandfather’s subs."
* In 1927, the first experimental 14-foot submarine, called Holland I, was recovered and salvaged from the Passaic River. The Holland I was built in 1878 by John Holland (1841-1914). The submarine hull was scuttled in 1878 in the Upper Passaic River after an exhaustive series of test and everything of value was removed. Holland figured that it was cheaper to start afresh rather than take her out of the water and put her in storage. The hull is currently on display at the Paterson Museum in Paterson, New Jersey.
1926 - Many historians claim the first submarine sandwich was served in New London, Connecticut in 1926. During World War II, when soldiers from the nearby submarine base in Groton, ate them by the thousands.