Pepperoni rolls as W.Va. official food

West Virginia slaw line.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An $8 million budget shortfall be damned.

The West Virginia legislature has thrown caution to the wind to debate mountain sate's official food because it draws attention to the state's heritage.

The state is known for down home cooking like beans and cornbread or a pungent onion relative known as ramps. Mountaineers may soon have the pepperoni roll as an official food.

Pepperoni rolls.

What about those other delicacies: hot dogs and slaw dogs.

Blame Del. Joshua Nelson, R-Boone for what may launch an uproar.

"It was brought to my attention by some people from up north, and they told me the history of the pepperoni roll, and I started to dig and couldn't find a state food, so I came up with the idea," Nelson told the Charleston Daily Mail.

"We're catching some flak because people are saying 'don't you have more important things to do?' Well, yes, we do. But we decided that with all the problems, it's important to take a break and take a look at our history and celebrate unity as West Virginians and celebrate what's been developed in our state and link back to that history."

North-Central West Virginia is the home of the pepperoni roll. Giuseppe Argiro, who came from Italy in 1920 to work in a Clarksburg-area coal mine, invented the tasty snack, according to the state Division of Culture and History.

Argiro toiled in the mines along with countless other immigrants recruited to work in the coal fields. For many of them the meal was a slab of bread, a piece of pepperoni and water.

The meals were contained in round lunch buckets divided into three compartments. The bottom held water. Wives often packed the buckets with more food than needed for a typical lunch in case a disaster trapped the workers.

In the late early parts of the 20th century coal company recruiters flocked to Italy, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Hungary to recruit men for West Virginia's burgeoning coal industry.

Many of the Italians were stone cutters hired for the ability to build stone support structures and many buildings.

Over at the West Virginia Hot Dog blog, the bloggers are preparing preparing for battle. They contend that West Virginia hot dogs are a uniquely delectable gift from heaven. After all folksinger John Denver christened the state "almost heaven."

Bloggers are calling it a Pepperoni Roll Power Play because of the political intrigue behind the resolution's sponsors, mostly Democrats from the northern part of the state. Most of the northern sponsors of the resolution live noth of the mythical "slaw line" which crosses I-77 at milepost 111.

Southern delegates from Logan, Mingo and McDowell counties are taking heat over their sponsorship of the bill.

Del. Ted Tomblin represents Logan County, the home of Morrison's Drive Inn. A Logan County staple, Morrison's has been serving hot dogs and slaw dogs for more than 60 years.

Resolution status:. House Concurrent Resolution 84