The Real Fat Sandwiches of New Jersey

By Carey Jones |

© Jake Cohn for Fat Darrell’s LLC

Not just a lowercase fat sandwich, as in, “fully stuffed”; nor just a fatty sandwich loaded with cheese and what have you. No, the Fat Sandwiches, which originated at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, are creations unto themselves. 

Served from the five Grease Trucks that once lined up together on College Avenue, the Fat Sandwiches are supersized hoagies that stuff all manner of fried foods—mozzarella sticks, french fries, chicken fingers—right into the sandwich itself. Though the exact origins are lost to history, it’s said that the Fat Cat, invented in 1979, was the first Fat Sandwich: a cheeseburger with french fries right on top. From there, the tradition evolved, many named after students who invented them, including the Fat Darrell: chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, french fries and marinara sauce. 

The bread. Soft hoagie bread, just substantial enough to cradle the obscene foodstuffs piled on top. 

The filling. Some Fat Sandwiches start out relatively traditional: say, the Fat Knight at RU Hungry, a cheesesteak that’s piled with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fries and marinara sauce. Others pay tribute to New Jersey, like the Fat Romano, with pork roll and egg…and a cheesesteak…and fries. 

Where to get them: 

RU Hungry; New Brunswick. For decades, the five original Grease Trucks all served Rutgers students from the same location. Last year, university development forced them to scatter, but RU Hungry, the most popular, is back in business. Go for the classic Fat Darrell; or branch out with the Fat Elvis, essentially a gyro with mozzarella sticks, fries, white sauce and hot sauce. 

Hoagie Haven; Princeton. This no-frills sandwich shop has as dedicated a Princeton following as the Grease Trucks did with the Rutgers crowd. Already a campus institution, the Haven was inspired by the Grease Trucks a few miles away and introduced Fat Sandwiches to its own menu. There’s the Phat Lady, a cheesesteak with mozzarella sticks and fries; the popular Sanchez, with chicken cutlets, mozzarella sticks, fries and a dousing of Sanchez sauce, and progressively less believable sandwiches from there. 

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