Mar 24, 2023 - Food and Drink

Meet the Samboners, cheesesteak fanatics

Illustration of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich pinned to a map of Philadelphia.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Stumble over to Gaul & Co. Malt House Friday and you'll find yourself in a total sambone-a-thon.

What's happening: Mickey McKenzie, co-host of "The Samboner Show" with Temple alum and former NFL player Colin Thompson, are doing a live taping of their podcast all about cheesesteaks and other sammies. And it's a four-hour special.

For the uninitiated: “Sambo” is Irish slang for a sandwich. “Samboning” is a term McKenzie and his buddies coined for delightfully wolfing down sandwiches while hamming it up for the camera.

  • A “samboner” is a sammie fanatic, the kind of person who, as the show says, will "talk for hours on end about slab vs. chopped cheesesteaks, Wiz vs. American vs Cooper Sharp, broccoli rabe vs. creamed spinach in a roast pork sambo," and well, you get the idea.

Why it matters: There are a lot of Samboners out there, it turns out. Maybe you're a Samboner, too.

The backstory: McKenzie, a married father of three, had a corporate job in sales but was more interested in his long-running “bro chat” about cheesesteaks among lifelong friends. He and Thompson launched the near-weekly pod last November and now have thousands of listeners. They’re often joined by friends and local food legends who dish about Philly’s obsessive sandwich and sports cultures.

  • It reminds you of drive-time radio, with a big serving of sayings unsuitable for print — and a patented Philly accent thicker than a ribeye.
  • “I struggle to work for the man,” McKenzie tells Axios. “I struggle to get up Monday morning.” The corporate job is no more.

The upsides: It's way more fun to be out at a Phillies game and stumble into "Samboner Show" fans while walking the concourse.

The drawbacks: McKenzie and his friends started developing “triple chins” in their early days of sandwich scouting when they chowed down on as many as 70 sammies in a single month.

What they're saying: “We’re like the misfits for foodies," McKenzie tells Axios.

How to listen: Friday's show at Gaul & Co. Malt House in Port Richmond tapes from 3-7pm. Maybe eat the malt house’s "Wit-or-Witowski” Kielbasa Cheesesteak while you're there.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.

More Philadelphia stories