Ithaca, N.Y. — The true origins of Ithaca College students’ favorite sandwich have been called into question since The Voice published a story detailing the history of Rogan’s Corner and its locally-famous “Bomber Sub.”
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“Give credit where credit is due,” said Joe Scalice, a former Ithaca College All-American football player, in a phone interview.
After the story was published, Scalice says, his friends and former classmates sent him text messages and called him. They wanted to know, he said, why the origins of the Bomber weren’t properly represented in the story: As a sandwich that was created 153 miles away, near the City of Buffalo, where it was called the “Stinger.”
Mike Brainard, owner of Rogan’s, says he is “willing to give credit where credit is due,” but said he didn’t misrepresent anything.
As noted in the first story, Brainard acknowledges that the Bomber was indeed inspired by the Stinger. But Brainard says Rogan’s deserves credit for giving it its current widespread appeal.
“It [wasn’t] the Bomber by any stretch,” Brainard says of the Stinger.
This appears to be where Brainard and Scalice diverge: Both agree that the Bomber came from the Stinger, but how big was the transformation?
“There are 4 to 5 restaurants in town that have since put it on their menu,” Brainard said of the Bomber. “All made differently … not one is the same.”
The first-generation of the Bomber
Located in Tonawanda, N.Y., “Colosso Taco” was founded in the 1960s, according to Tracy Bennett, who has owned the store for sixteen years.
It was at Colosso Taco, Bennett said, that founder Dwight Jeeves invented the Stinger sandwich, which consists of chicken tenders, steak, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, with one’s choice of mayonnaise, bleu cheese, or oil, coupled with various types of chicken wing and barbecue sauces.
Scalice used to eat at Colosso Taco before he started at Ithaca College. When he went to IC in the mid-2000s, he says, he brought the recipe for the Stinger to Kings Subs, the now-closed store that operated out of Rogan’s current location.
Scalice during his time as an offensive guard for the Bombers. (Courtesy Ithaca College)
Scalice, a North Tonowanda native, ate at King Subs “5 to 6 times a week,” according to his friend, teammate, and former roommate Josh Felicetti, who was the Bombers’ quarterback during that time.
“Us normal people probably went 3 to 4 times a week,” he said in a phone interview with a chuckle.
Soon after Scalice began ordering the sandwich, he said, it soared in popularity.
“Word of mouth traveled throughout the football team, and it became one of their best selling sandwiches when it wasn’t even on their menu,” said Scalice, now a schoolteacher in Baltimore.
Eventually, he said, the Stinger was added to the official menu at King Subs before the store went out of business in 2006. The storefront was then taken over by Brainard, who set up “Rogan’s Corner.”
“After King Subs left, all of a sudden, this sandwich named the Bomber was the Stinger,” Scalice said.
Scalice says he doesn’t mind that the Stinger was renamed the Bomber. What bugs him is how, he says, Brainard ignored its history.
“… It’s not that I’m angry; I just don’t like when people misconstrue the story,” Scalice says.
The Stinger evolves into the Bomber
Shortly after opening “Rogan’s Corner,” Brainard said, a new, comprehensive menu was needed.
He scoured through menus online from restaurants in Maine to restaurants in California to find recipes that would be popular for the customers of his store.
The Bomber, however, was simply an evolution of the popular Stinger sandwich the King Subs made.
“But we evolved into it, basically — once we changed the menu and named it The Bomber it instantly became … well, you know,” he said.
So what exactly is the difference between the Bomber and the Stinger? Brainard and his partners developed the sandwich into what it is today by implementing his own wing sauces into the tried-and-true recipe that was the Stinger.
Since he introduced the sandwich to the menu, which originally consisted of basic deli offerings and pizza, he’s sold “thousands and thousands and thousands.”
“We reengineered it, we rebranded it, we remarketed it,” Brainard said of the Stinger, which was eventually re-named the Bomber, after Ithaca College’s athletic teams.
“We engineered the best way we found and we moved forward.”
So they’re different sandwiches? “From my perspective, on our end, there’s a very big difference,” Brainard said.