The pepperoni roll, a soft bread roll with pepperoni baked in the middle, originated in the coal mining areas of north central West Virginia when Italian immigrants invented a food that could be eaten easily underground.
This spicy snack soon found its way out of the mines and into bakeries, bread companies, restaurants, and event venues around the state, often with additional ingredients like cheese, red sauce, or peppers.
As the pepperoni roll’s reputation moves beyond the borders of West Virginia, this food continues to embody the culinary culture of its home state. It is now found at the center of bake-offs, eating contests, festivals, as a gourmet item on local menus, and even on a bill in the state’s legislature.
By Candace Nelson