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Giuseppe "Joseph" Argiro, is the originator of the Pepperoni Roll that is considered a popular snack in West Virginia today. It first started at the Country Club bakery in Fairmont, West Virginia. 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 to bake rolls with pepperoni slices inside.


  • The outside of the Bakery in Fairmont, West Virginia. Photo:
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According to Jeanne Mozier in her indispensable guidebook, Way Out in West Virginia, the pepperoni roll was invented by Giuseppe "Joseph" Argiro at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont in 1927. This is disputed, however, as some argue it wasn't invented until the 1940s. What is certain is that pepperoni roll originated at the Country Club Bakery.

The classic pepperoni roll consists of a fairly soft white yeast bread roll with pepperoni baked in the middle. During baking, the fats in the pepperoni (which are hard at room temperature) melt, resulting in a spicy oil suffusing into the bread. Pepperoni rolls are typically eaten as a snack or as the main dish of a lunch either unheated or slightly warmed.

He passed the recipe on to his son, Frank "Cheech" Argiro who owned the Country Club Bakery until 1997. Today the bakery is owned by Chris Pallotta. Pepperoni rolls faced a legal challenge in 1987 when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed reclassifying bakeries that manufactured the rolls as meat processing plants, thus subjecting them to stricter regulations. The bakery owners claimed, however, that the costs of meeting the new regulations would put them out of business. The USDA's proposal was squashed after Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Senator for West Virginia, intervened.

Since the early 2000s, the U.S. military began including a version of the pepperoni roll in one of the MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat) provided to troops. In the late 2000s, the U.S. Army changed the pepperoni roll to its First Strike Ration. These rations are designed for light infantry, airborne, and special forces during a typical 72-hour patrol. The pepperoni roll's compact size and comparatively high nutritional return make it an ideal ration for these patrols. These rations were extensively employed during operation enduring freedom. The military's rolls are made by a North Carolina company.

Edge, John. "Fast Food Even Before Fast Food." The New York Times. September 29, 2009. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/dining/30unit.html.

"The History of the Pepperoni Roll." BobHeffner.com. Accessed February 14, 2018.  http://www.bobheffner.com/pepperoniroll/history.htm.