The Best Kind of Sandwich is a Six-Foot-Long Sandwich

Make room for party subs at your next summer get-together.

A large sub sandwich with illustrations of party-goers
Photo:

Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Illustrations by Beth Walrond

The party sub is, objectively, the wackiest of all the sandwiches. We’re talking about those enormous, fills-the-entire-table, six-foot hoagies that can feed up to 20 people. The return of bar mitzvahs, baby showers, and office functions have paved the way for a party sub boom — and sandwich shops and delis are meeting that need, incorporating their distinctive personalities into novelty macro-sandwiches.

The thing that makes a party sub a party sub is the extra-long bread, and baking a six-foot roll requires a big-enough oven and a whole team of bakers. “It takes a party to make a party sub roll,” explains Nora Allen, executive head baker and partner at Mel The Bakery in New York City; she has built gargantuan sandwiches at several places during her career. “You need at least three people just to carry it to the oven,” she says. “You all have to keep this giant piece of dough completely level.”

Many delis outsource the bread, which can also bring on logistical challenges. At Middle Child, a sandwich shop in Philadelphia, owner Matt Cahn requires customers to preorder their six-foot subs at least two days in advance to give their bread purveyor enough time to bake and deliver the special order. But once Cahn has the roll, Middle Child can make a party sub out of any of their cold sandwich offerings. (Warm ingredients can mess with the bread’s “structural integrity,” Cahn explains.) If a lot of six-foot hoagie orders come through, Cahn ends up having to shut down Middle Child because they need the dining room space to build all those giant subs. “We put each one in a ridiculously silly cardboard coffin,” says Cahn. The cartoonish flair of the boxes is emphasized by how hard they are to maneuver. “Trying to carry one up a set of stairs is like watching movers move a sofa, trying to angle it around the corner. It has a very Three Stooges vibe.”

A large sub sandwich with illustrations of party-goers

Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Illustrations by Beth Walrond

The thing about a six-foot sandwich is not just that it’s long — it’s also heavy and tall. Caitlin Wolff, director of kitchen operations at Brooklyn-based Court Street Grocers, estimates that a single party sub weighs about 15 pounds. (To make one of its six-foot Clean Turkey subs, Court Street uses one quart of mayo, six pounds of turkey, four whole onions, a half-pound of arugula, and almost a quart of sweet pickles.) Sometimes customers forget just how much sandwich a six-foot sub really is. “People come to pick up a party sub on their bikes and have to quickly find an alternative solution for getting it back home,” says Wolff. “Nope. You can lock up your bike here — you’d better call an UberXL.”

After the pandemic era of single-serve everything, sharing a laughably large sandwich just feels right. In the summer of 2022, Cahn catered a wedding reception by serving several party subs on wooden boards adorned with sparklers. “A six-foot sandwich is a silly experience,” she says. “And it’s just pure joy.”

How to make a party sub without a six-foot roll

If you can’t source a 6-foot-long roll, hack it with nine 8-inch rolls (or three 2-foot rolls). Slice off the ends from seven of the rolls, fill the sandwiches, slice them, and then line up the pieces, starting and finishing with an end piece.

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