The political battle was fierce this week, with strong feelings on both sides. In the end, Bernie Sanders emerged victorious, beating Hillary Clinton by around 15 percent.
Not at the Wells Fargo Center, of course. Despite Sanders supporters’ attempts to disrupt proceedings both inside and out of the arena, the Democratic Party’s nomination for US President went to Clinton, who accepted in a historic speech on Thursday evening.
But in a different part of South Philly, DNC visitors who were voting with their stomachs came to a different conclusion.
Throughout the week, Pat’s King of Steaks ran a special promotion pitting two special cheesesteaks against one another. There was the “Hillary Clinton Heart Attack,” with all three cheeses (that’s American, provolone and Whiz) piled atop the beef, and the “Bernie Sanders Guy Gavone,” with peppers, mushrooms, onions and a choice of cheese mixed in between the roll. Both were selling for $11 a pop.
On Friday morning, after the convention closed, third-generation Pat’s owner Frankie Olivieri Jr. released the results. The iconic Passyunk Avenue stand sold 1,695 Hillary sandwiches, and 1,994 Bernie sandwiches.
“I guess maybe the Bernie supporters couldn’t get into the Wells Fargo Center so they were hungrier,” Olivieri joked, before quickly adding his real thoughts on the disparity.
“Actually I don’t think it has to do with the candidate — I think more people just like that sandwich [with mushrooms, peppers and onions] better,” he said. “If we had made the Gavone Hillary’s, she probably would have won.”
In general, it was a good week for the cheesesteak shop. Olivieri reports that business was booming at night after the convention proceedings were done, especially for a week that was “offensively hot.” The shack, which makes up one half of Philadelphia’s “Cheesesteak Vegas,” along with Geno’s Steaks, has long been a go-to stop for politicians visiting Philadelphia — especially Democrats.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey made a special trip down to say hello, even though he’s a vegan, and the Secret Service stopped by multiple times, Olivieri said.
“We think Obama sent down for sandwiches, too,” he added. “He came once before.”
Not counted in the Bernie vs. Hillary cheesesteak totals was a custom order — many customers actually wanted to combine the two specials into one, Olivieri said.
“They wanted to unify the sandwich because they wanted to unify the party!”