Pepperoni rolls were “first introduced by Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont in 1927. One of the top pepperoni-roll makers in Fairmont today, is quite certain it wasn’t invented until the 1940s, but no one disputes that they originated at the Country Club Bakery.
It was a practical lunch for Fairmont’s miners, who needed food that was portable, sturdy and long-lasting. Argiro, a former miner, noticed many of his co-workers munching on a piece of pepperoni with a piece of bread. He began baking rolls with pepperoni slices inside. He passed the recipe on to his son, Frank “Cheech” Argiro who owned the Country Club Bakery until 1997.”*
I started seeing these things in gas stations when I first started visiting West Virginia. I will rarely buy pre-made sandwiches from a gas station or convenient store, as they are generally a disappointment. However, I happened to stumble into the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, W.V. one morning, looking for a sweet roll (imagine that) and was asked if I’d like to try one. I did and it was quite good and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Since then, I’ve been making my own at home, a dozen at a time. I’ve tried several variations of the theme and never been disappointed, except to say that my first run was not the best. The bread was a bit dense and I wanted something lighter.
Since that first batch, where the recipe didn’t require any rises, I have changed to including several rises and adding some ginger powder to help lighten the bread component. I’m not really particular about how the pepperoni gets sliced, but I do like a lot of it, and not just one or two slabs.
Anyway, these things are really easy to make and keep in the fridge for quite awhile and they make a nice lunch or just a snack. Quick and easy. They also freeze very well and can be microwaved right from the freezer to the plate. Just don’t overdo it.
Some variations on style can include chopped or even ground pepperoni, chopped with cheese mixed in (need to try this one), quartered slices, adding some sauce prior to baking, and I’ve even seen one deep fried instead of baked and it looked really good with a bunch of cheese in it. There is also the “log” variation, where you roll up a bunch of meat and cheese into a log and then slice it into individual servings. Haven’t tried that one yet, but seems like you could add a lot of good things in a recipe like that.
Here’s another variation that looks good, which I haven’t tried yet, but I’m all about the bread portion of this recipe and this one is quite different. I like that it has potato water and potatoes added to the recipe. She also chops up the pepperoni slices in this recipe. You can watch the YouTube video here.
No matter how you put it together, portability & availability was the original intent, so I always like to make sure that they’re easy to get at and easy to carry. I usually grab one around lunch time, pop it in the microwave for about 25 seconds and grab a beer on my way back down to my shop. Makes a nice lunch.
If you want the recipe that I use, you can get it right here (look below). It’s clean, quick and simple. Or you can google and see what else you come up with. Anyway you slice it, I’m sure you will come up with some tasty results and you’ll find a new way to keep the kids and the spouse happy when they want a snack or a quick meal on the run. Have fun.