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  • Writer's pictureAdam Horvath

Norristown Zeps- Lettuce Need Not Apply

There’s something badass about this foodigenous, that's only found in the Northwestern suburbs of Philadelphia. Sure, at first glance the zep, an abbreviation for zeppelin, looks like a typical meat and cheese hoagie and in some sandwich shops it's used as a fugazi synonym, but a legit, authentic Norristown PA spawned zep is something very specific.

There are rules to this ISH

You can't get a ham, salami and cheese zep. You only get one meat on an "original zep", and it is salami; cooked salami to be exact which resembles bologna more than it does a traditional dry genoa salami.

Okay, I’ll have salami and swiss zep” - Nope, you'll get salami and provolone.

“Fine, but with lettuce, tomato, onion and oil & vinegar” - You can have tomato and onion, but it's going to be thick slices of hand cut sweet onion, a squirt of oil, no vinegar and chances are it will be served on a long Conshohocken Bakery aka "conshy" roll and absolutely no lettuce. Hot pepper relish and mayo are allowable, with the relish being a must imho

According to Eve's Lunch, who's been making the traditional zep in Norristown since 1965 they don't have lettuce in their store. Over the years, Eve's have expanded their menu of zeps to include ham and turkey and even chicken salad and tuna. The sizes can vary from small, medium and large but for the real "zeppelin" experience and it's your first time having one- go with the medium or large rolls.

Submarines, Torpedos & Zeppelins

In 1941, Louis Bondi opened Lou's, a convenience store which later turned into a luncheonette on E Main St, Norristown. He and his family claim to have perfected the zep and have been serving them ever since. While there's never been a confirmation as to who first coined the term zep, the name was likely influenced by the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, a German Zeppelin that caught fire killing 36. Whether it was Lou who maybe dabbled in marketing and ceased an opportunity to capitalize on national news or it was one of the other origin stories, Lou's longevity is undoubtedly responsible for helping spread the sandwich's popularity, albeit within a micro region. Today you can see a scattering of pizzerias and delis with zeps on their menus in towns like Bridgeport and Phoenixville. And depending on what regional food Giovanni & Sons is introducing his customers in Royersford to that day, pay attention to their social, you might get a chance to sink your teeth into that bad boy above.

This is a simple yet tasty sandwich that's more interesting because of the strict adherence to the rules! And is it just me, or are you also interested in finding out who loathed lettuce the way I do a walnut IYKYN- If you are in the area, give a zep a try.

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Liz Novotny
Liz Novotny
May 15

Was the Zep good ?

Adam Horvath
Adam Horvath
May 15
Replying to

T'was yummy! The THICK onion was surprisingly enjoyable

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