W.Va. lawmakers: Make pepperoni rolls an official state food

CHARLESTON – Some West Virginia lawmakers want to make the pepperoni roll the official food of West Virginia.

Under House Concurrent Resolution No. 84, initially sponsored by Delegate Joshua Nelson, R-Boone, the pepperoni roll is “often referred to as the ‘unofficial state food of West Virginia,’ the simple-to-make pepperoni roll is more than the sum of its parts, every single bite is filled with soft, warm bread infused with flavor from the freshly cut, delicately seasoned pepperoni.”

While Philadelphia has its cheese steaks and New York has its bagels, the pepperoni roll was first created in Fairmont, around 1927 by Italian immigrant baker Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro, quickly becoming a daily staple for coal miners and struggling families, the resolution states.

In 1987, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed restrictions that threatened to put the family-owned bakeries of pepperoni rolls out of business, West Virginia pepperoni roll producers contacted U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who intervened and successfully saved the entire industry, according to the resolution.

”Today, the humble pepperoni roll is ubiquitous around the Mountain State and may be found in restaurants, bakeries, convenience stores and family kitchens, eaten cold or hot, this simple food continues to sustain West Virginians from every walk of life, coal miners, artists, business people and students,” the legislation said. ”The pepperoni roll is as popular as ever and is enjoyed everyday throughout West Virginia and the states that our bakeries supply.”

The resolution calls on the Legislature to recognize the significance of the pepperoni roll in the state and by so doing declares that the pepperoni roll is the official state food of West Virginia. It calls on West Virginians to join in recognizing the value and importance of pepperoni rolls in West Virginia and that the clerk of the House of Delegates forward certified copies of the resolution to the pepperoni roll bakeries of West Virginia.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Delegates Randy Smith, R-Preston; Mike Caputo, D-Marion; Ted Tomblin, D-Logan; Richard Iaquinta, D-Harrison; Tim Miley, D-Harrison; Harry White, D-Mingo; Justin Marcum, D-Mingo; Clif Moore, D-McDowell; Tim Manchin, D-Marion, and Troy Andes, R-Putnam.

Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, said resolutions like this one are introduced all the time by people for reasons that may be important to their districts.

However, Ellem was not familiar with the particulars of the bill and thinks it would not be a good use of lawmakers’ time to take it up for too long.

”I really hope we don’t waste any time on this,” he said.

Delegate Anna Border, R-Wood, said the bill was introduced Tuesday, ironically just before legislators were going to take a meal break.

”It got a big laugh all around,” she said. ”It was introduced right before lunch so it sounded really good.”

Border jokingly considered adding an amendment to designate the pepperoni rolls from Colasessano’s in Fairmont as the official pepperoni rolls for the entire state.

”If you have never had one, no other one compares,” she said with a laugh. ”I think Delegate (Tim) Manchin would have liked my amendment. He is from Fairmont.”

If the resolution comes up for a vote, Border said she would vote “Yea, for sure.”