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Another odd line from the famous TV show. What does it mean, to eat a Hero? (the full script)

ELAINE: (piffling) I once broke up with someone for not offering me pie.

JERRY: You did?

ELAINE: He could be eating a Hero, he wouldn't offer me anything. It's a sickness.

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"Hero" is a NY city area regionalism for submarine sandwich aka the sub, hoagie, grinder, or spuckie.

I suspect, but cannot prove, that it actually comes from the Greek "gyro", which when pronounced as in Greek, has an aspirated "g" and comes out sounding an awful lot like "hyero". A gyro is a long cylindrical sandwich (though, unlike a hero, it is constructed by rolling, not by stuffing a cylindrical length of bread), and large numbers of Greek immigrants to the US started working in (and taking over) Italian sub shops, so it seems likely enough, but the wikipedia article claims the timing doesn't work out.

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  • I suppose you never know, but I have to say I think it's bogglingly unlikely that the kind of people who invent informal names for sandwiches would borrow from ancient Greek. But I do seem to recall from my holidays in Greece that gyros were some kind of "finger food" - maybe like little doner kebabs, I don't recall exactly. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 26 '14 at 3:16
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    @FumbleFingers not the ancient Greek, the perfectly modern Greek that the Greek workers in the Italian sub shops shout at each other. (I do not know why there are so many Greeks owning Italian sub shops, but here abouts it is a thing.) Do you not have gyros where you are? – Codeswitcher Sep 26 '14 at 3:22
  • We don't actually have any Greek eateries round my way (not that I eat out much these days anyway). There's an excellent place down the road that does kebabs, but they're pretty substantial. Their "standard" kebab has a whole chicken breast, plus shedloads of salad packed into a pitta bread. The "large" has two breasts, and the "kingsize" has three fat chicken breasts. From what I remember of the "gyros" I was offered in Greece, they were pretty "snacky" little bites to nibble on, often given free with your beer, like tapas in Spain. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 26 '14 at 3:35
  • The word, as applied to sandwiches, is spelled sometimes gyro and sometimes hero. Here is an ngram, FWIW. – Drew Sep 26 '14 at 3:35
  • Gyros around here (northeastern US) are served in round pita bread, which is then rolled up, into a shaped resembling a cone more than a cylinder. Possibly etymology bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 26 '14 at 12:45

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