Pepperoni rolls from West Virginia

Pepperoni rolls are comfort food in West Virginia

I am a West Virginia transplant. When moving here I truly did not expect there to be a large cultural difference. After all, I lived most of my life only about four hours north of this beautiful state. How different could West Virginia be?

I found that West Virginia and Northern Ohio may be geographically close, but culturally there are a lot of differences. Life is slower here, though not all, some accents are quite thick, and there are even foods here I had never heard of before. One of those is the pepperoni roll.

What pepperoni rolls are

A pepperoni roll is simply a white roll with pepperoni in the middle; simple, but delicious. The roll is unique. Not exactly bread like, but softer than pizza crust. Most often there are slices of pepperoni baked in the roll, but they are also made with sticks of the meat, or ground pepperoni. Traditionally they were made with meat only, but cheese is now a common addition. As the rolls bake the flavor of the pepperoni penetrates the entire thing. A good pepperoni roll is moist, but not soggy.

Pepperoni rolls are found everywhere here. You can buy them at grocery stores, or at convenience stores. They are very popular in West Virginia, and until recently were rarely found outside the state.

The pepperoni roll is said to originate in Fairmont, a small city in North-Central West Virginia.  Fairmont has given itself the title of “Pepperoni Roll Capital of the World.” There are various stories as to the origin of the pepperoni roll, but the fact is that they became a popular item with coal miners in the state. The rolls made a convenient and cheap meal for miners as they took a break from their hard labor.

I have yet to make pepperoni rolls at home. There are a few recipes out there, but the general consensus seems to be that West Virginians prefer to buy their pepperoni rolls. I like to pick them up in the grocery store as a quick snack for kids who are tired of grocery shopping. Of course, mom enjoys one or two also!


Stephanie Appleton lives with her husband and four children in the hills of West Virginia where they are learning to live simply and getting out of debt. See more at her blog Stop the Ride!.