History of the Pepperoni Roll? It’s A West Virginia Classic!

Why am I blogging about pepperoni rolls, you might ask? I’m a dietitian, aren’t pepperoni rolls supposed to be “bad” for you? Well, yeah maybe.  But I learned a little tid bit today about pepperoni rolls that I found intriguing.  Did you know that some people in this world have never even heard of a pepperoni roll, let alone ever tried one?! WHAT?!! This is a travesty, I say. Those little rolls of heaven are absolutely delicious.

Being born and raised in the Appalachian region, this “pepperoni roll phenomenon” was complete news to me.  However, today I learned in a presentation by Roanna Martin that the pepperoni roll actually originated right here in West Virginia!

What Is A Pepperoni Roll?

Let me break down the components of a pepperoni roll for those who have never tried one before.  Number one…THE DOUGH. Typically plain old white yeast bread dough broken into small squares.  Number two…THE PEPPERONI.  This can be in the form of a single stick, several folded slices, or shredded or ground.  It’s strategically placed on top of a laid out piece of dough. Number three…THE CHEESE.  Who doesn’t love cheese? Usually parmesan or mozzarella cheese is sprinkled on top of the pepperoni and is thus “rolled up” into the shape of a roll.  Number four…BAKE IT.  This is the key step.  Cooking the pepperoni roll allows all of the yummy juices of the pepperoni to seep into the dough.  Then the cheese melts and oozes out of the edges of the roll, creating a mushy gushy roll of doughy, cheesy, pepperoni-y, scrumdiddlyumptiousness.

I may have made up some of those words, but hey, you get the idea…I love pepperoni rolls.

History of the Pepperoni Roll

The pepperoni roll is ubiquitous to West Virginia because it was created by Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, West Virginia, in 1927 (Fairmont is only about 20 minutes from Morgantown).  It was created as a quick and practical snack for coal miners because it did not require refrigeration and could be easily packed for lunch.

Nowadays pepperoni rolls are sold everywhere you go in West Virginia. I’ve seen them in gas stations, convenience stores, farmer’s markets, cafeterias, grocery stores, and just about everywhere else.

Healthier Version of the Pepperoni Roll!

I couldn’t blog about my love for this WV staple without giving some healthier options and alternatives to the classic pepperoni roll. This recipe incorporates whole wheat pizza dough, turkey pepperoni instead of regular pepperoni, and if you are trying to save on extra calories you can always nix the cheese.

Whole Wheat Pepperoni Roll Recipe


  • Homemade whole wheat pizza dough (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon yeast, sea salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 cup warm water and let rise for 2-3 hours.)
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 package turkey pepperoni
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • Preheat over to 375.


1. After dough rises, roll it out so it is very thin. Depending on how many rolls you want (and which size you want them) cut the dough accordingly. I cut my dough into four pieces.

2. Brush each piece of dough with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of garlic powder. Add a layer of pepperoni, then a layer of cheese. I used cheese slices, but tore them in pieces to fit. Make sure you use a combo of mozzarella and provolone in each roll.

3. Starting at one end, fold the roll to the end (like a jellyroll) and pinch the sides close. Lay on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.

4. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, turning the rolls halfway through.




3 thoughts on “History of the Pepperoni Roll? It’s A West Virginia Classic!

  1. Mary, your blog on pepperoni rolls reminds me of our conversation at Riley’s graduation party. Moreover, it reminds me of my early professional career at Fairmont State University–Fairmont, the home town of the pepperoni role! I am really enjoying reading your postings. I am learning things, too. As Martha Stewart says, “It’s a good thing!”

    • Hi Marsha, I was thinking of you today when I was learning about the pepperoni roll and writing this blog post…I knew you’d appreciate the Fairmont reference! Let me know if you have any ideas for future blog posts you would like me to write! I am literally obsessed with nutritional blogging if you couldn’t already tell 🙂 Hope all is well with you!

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