Hard as it is to believe, the original cheesesteak from Philadelphia was missing what you might consider a key ingredient – cheese. The sandwich originated at a hot dog stand owned by Pat and Harry Olivieri, and became so popular that Pat started his own place that’s still operating today, Pat’s King of Steaks.
A couple of years later, someone finally figured out that cheese makes everything better. And the first cheese used on the Philly steak was provolone. Today, at Pat’s chief rival in South Philly, Geno’s Steaks, you can order your sandwich with provolone, American, or Cheese Whiz. The New York Times called Cheese Whiz “the sine qua non of cheesesteaks.” But what does the Times know from cheesesteaks, huh? Just be prepared to order fast, because there are people waiting in line behind you, hey!
In his 2004 campaign for president, that famed man of the people John Kerry ordered a cheesesteak with swiss cheese. Really. Didn’t go over too well in Philly. The Philadelphia Inquirer opined, “In Philadelphia, that’s an alternate lifestyle.”
Great video about the Pat’s vs. Geno’s cheesesteak war: