Mid-Atlantic Market takes top honors in Mountaineer Week Pepperoni Roll Contest

MORGANTOWN — Mid-Atlantic Market is on a roll.

For the second year in a row, the Morgantown deli and bakery took top honors in the Mountaineer Week Pepperoni Roll contest.

Mountaineer Week is WVU’s annual week-long celebration of all things Appalachia.

Festivities today include the famous PRT Cram and Bob Huggins 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament for cancer research.

A full schedule of events is online at mountaineerweek.wvu.edu.

Fast food from Giuseppi Argiro

First, some history: According to culinary lore, West Virginia’s iconic pepperoni roll was born right down the road in Fairmont, in 1927.

That was when Giuseppi “Joe” Argiro began cranking them out at his Country Club Bakery.

Now, more than 90 years later, the bakery is still in business and still at the Country Club Road address that served as its namesake.

And Argiro’s creation is still a signature item.

A roll for every role

He started baking sticks of pepperoni into rolls of the bread for which his bakery was already famous.

The idea was to create a filling snack for the Italian immigrant coal miners on their way underground to carve a purchase of the American dream.

Pepperoni rolls caught on. They’re a tailgate staple for football games.

You’ll find them on buffet trays at corporate gatherings and wedding receptions, even.

Japan’s favorite pepperoni roll?

Judy Samuels and Teran Heffner, who were there from Mid-Atlantic Market were happy to accept their repeat prize.

Mid-Atlantic Market, they said, is all about the region and the foods that are unique here.

Their version of the pepperoni roll has proven to be a popular menu item, they said. What’s the secret? Samuels laughed — and didn’t give the recipe away.

“Teran and I are crazy perfectionists,” she said. “That’s what makes a good pepperoni roll.”

“True,” Heffner seconded.

Mid-Atlantic Bakery’s pepperoni rolls have traveled to all 50 U.S. states, Samuels said, as the faithful continue spread the word (while sharing, shipping and otherwise transporting the roll).

“Japan,” she said. “They love us in Japan.”

Pepperoni proclamation

Morgantown Mayor Bill Kawecki, who helped judge the contest, counts himself a pepperoni roll purist.

“Well, first, the bread has to stand by itself,”  he said.

“It starts with the bread. Then, you have to have the right combination with the pepperoni. And anything else you add, like cheese, is just a bonus.”

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