WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF)- Valley Cheese owner Janet Richardson says, “I didn’t even know there was a state food. You know the rhododendron and the cardinal maybe, but not the pepperoni roll as the state food. I think it’s a great idea.”
Did you know pepperoni rolls are a very popular Mountain State snack?
Right now, there is a house resolution that could make the pepperoni roll the official state food of West Virginia.
Local resident Tara Smith says, “I mean they’re delicious and I love them just as much as I love West Virginia. So, I’m okay with it.”
“Growing up in the junior high school we sold pepperoni rolls for like a dollar,”says local resident Brittany Neal, “So, it’s kind of cool to see something take off just like that.”
Drew Gonchoff, who is from West Virginia, adds, “Everybody loves pepperoni rolls and it’s a West Virginia tradition. So, everybody knows that if come here you eat them. Yeah, they’re great!”
Some Wheeling firefighters are also psyched about pepperoni rolls becoming the new state food.
Wheeling firefighter Jamie Waugh says, “If you need a snack it’s kind of the perfect thing. You grab it if you go on a walk or around town. “It’s the best portable snack to have. They’re just a great food all around.”
“Restaurants battle each other as to who has the best pepperoni rolls. Everybody thinks their grandma has the best pepperoni roll,” says Wheeling Fire Engineer/Paramedic Daniel Hughes, “Everybody eats them around here so I think it’s a good idea.”
Richardson sells pepperoni rolls to customers in Wheeling’s Center Market.
According to Richardson, she says she always buys her pepperoni rolls from Wheeling firefighter Dave Harmon.
She adds, “They are a perfect pepperoni roll, little bit of cheese, little bit of sauce all wrapped up in a delightful dough.”
Harmon, who owns Pizza Villa in Wheeling, has been making them for decades using his family’s recipe.
“You put pepperoni, cheese, a little bit of sauce and I’m rolling it up and baking it in the oven. I also coat them with a little bit of garlic butter to give them some extra flavor,” he says, “We try to make sure that there’s pepperoni all the way through so every time you take a bite you get pepperoni and you don’t want to take a bite of bread.”
Harmon says it’s hard to believe, but if you are not from West Virginia, you may have never heard of a pepperoni roll.
He chuckles, “Everybody has their little thing and I just have to explain to them that’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s pepperoni rolled up. It’s not real hard.”
History has it that the first pepperoni rolls were handmade in Fairmont, West Virginia by Italian immigrants who were coal miners.
Their wives actually made them with love for their husbands.
Richardson says, “The pepperoni roll is West Virginia based because of the coal miners. It was non-perishable. They could take it underground. It wouldn’t perish. It wouldn’t spoil. It can be eaten hot, cold, room temperature, however.”
“Try them everywhere. They’re like pizza, like hamburgers. Every place makes them a little different. So try everybody’s until you find what you like.”
“You can get a full lunch. You know a soup, salad and a drink and then grab a pepperoni roll for a little bit later while you’re at your desk working. It’s like a three o’clock snack. It is perfect.”
In case you’re wondering, if the pepperoni roll would be the first state food, it is not. The golden delicious apple is actually the current West Virginia state fruit.