If you’re visiting Duluth from the Twin Cities, you don’t just hop on I-35 South to go home. That’s for amateurs.
You hop on Grand Avenue, which becomes Highway 23 and leads you to Gary New Duluth. From there, you’ve got a few options to get back onto the Interstate; but don’t you dare let your GPS take you home without a stop into Hugo’s Pizza II. You need to relax. They might have CHiPs on the television. You could play a pretty rad pinball game that might have been the first one ever made. Order a sandwich for the road.
It’s an honest-to-goodness, just-like-home sandwich.
The Basics: I am unaware of the existence of Hugo’s Pizza I. Here’s my theory:
Do you remember that ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit where band members were arguing over a band name and Chris Farley’s character suggested “Pearl Jam II”? Well, imagine if the band had stuck with that name, eaten the members of the real Pearl Jam, and absorbed their powers. That’s what I imagine happened in real life with Hugo’s Pizza II. That’s why they offer sandwiches you could take out a brakelight with.
Ordering ahead is an option, but then you’d never find out whether the CHiPs caught the Box Office Gang after letting ’em slip through their fingers. You also couldn’t build a rapport with the staff at Hugo’s – or, in my case, fail to build a rapport.
It happened when I ordered at the counter on my most recent visit. I signed the receipt, thanked the hostess, and somehow made that weird.
“How did you know my name?” she asked me, as if I’d been standing outside her bedroom window or something.
“I read it on the receipt,” I said.
A really creepy teacher once taught me nothing is so sweet to an individual as the sound of his or her name. Despite his penchant for flowery button-ups and calling females “vivacious”, I took his signature lesson to heart. Most of the time, people appreciate it; other times, well, this. She took my signed receipt with one hand, and probably took her other hand off the 9 and 1 buttons of the telephone. This isn’t how you build a rapport.
Let’s talk sandwiches now.
Hugo’s Club Sub, size large, is an elephantine delight carting every household fixing onto one sandwich as if done on a dare. Toppings include, but are not limited to: ham, turkey, roast beef, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, onions, 2-3 types of cheese, and bacon if you pay extra. A reasonable human being would get 4-5 meals out of this; my type gets two or three. Without bacon, a club sub runs $14. Bacon hikes it up around $17.
And don’t think this is just about size, not the way family members and friends request this sandwich by name when they hear I’m heading up north. Nobody would go through that trouble so they could spend three days eating a bad sandwich. Tell me: Why do you make sandwiches with these ingredients at home? It’s because it works! Hugo’s is already going over the top; they don’t need to put alien materials in their sandwiches.
Their sandwich variety is a steady mix of classics: BLT, Italian, Philly cheese, and a few others. They’re sandwiches you can trust. You’ve heard me chirp love songs in the past about a grilled cheese at Butcher and the Boar and a fried chicken sandwich at World Street Kitchen. There’s a time for fancy tastes indeed; but when you want to make somebody shoot through the roof of an office building, there is no substitute for a Hugo’s club sub.
It brings tin foil, a piece of paper film, the victory of lifting it up, the hit of natural ecstasy in every treacherous chomp, and the fat-and-happy couch nap you’ll slip into soon after. That’s why you don’t just hop on the Interstate.