By Carey Jones
Updated April 18, 2014
Credit: © Adam Kuban

Every self-respecting university town needs one true food institution—the last stop on a long night out, where you recover from 16 rounds of beer pong with something hot and probably cheese-stuffed and gloriously unhealthy. Up in Ithaca, New York, on the Cornell University campus, that’s the Hot Truck.

Open only on weekends from 9 p.m. until the wee hours, the Hot Truck sells French bread–pizza subs that could halt any state of drunkenness in its tracks. The original owner, Bob Petrillose, started the truck in 1960 with his Poor Man’s Pizza, or PMP—that’s tomato sauce and mozzarella on toasted French bread—and it soon caught on with cash-strapped college kids. Though the truck was sold to new owners in 2000, it hasn’t changed much, and late into Friday night (or is it Saturday morning?) you’ll find crowds at the Hot Truck. (Waiting outside for a sandwich in the middle of the night in upstate New York seems a little crazy most months of the year, but hey, no one says drunken college kids make the smartest decisions.)

The bread. A light French bread roll that crisps up when it’s toasted; the double size—a half loaf—is easily a foot long. Many subs start with a base of PMP or garlic bread.

The lingo. “Instead of ordering a meatball sub or a chicken Parmesan sub, people walk up to the window and say ‘MBC’ or ‘Gimme a CSC,’” wrote the Cornell Daily Sun. “Students play a big role in determining what’s available on the Hot Truck.” So you get sandwiches with names like the Ho-Ho (a PMP with hot ham, Swiss and mushrooms) and the Sui, short for Suicide (tomato, mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni and mozzarella on garlic bread).