Hoagies ace homeland security drill

What Eagles deem a threat doesn't faze White House.

What an X-ray monitor at the Chester County Courthouse found inside a reporter's briefcase would frighten only an Eagles executive: a bottle of soda, and a provolone, salami and cappicola ham hoagie for only $5.25.

This article was originally published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on July 27, 2003.

A roast beef hoagie from Wawa got to within 30 yards of President Bush during his visit to Philadelphia on Thursday.

Another hoagie - an Italian job from Reading Terminal Market - sat through a presentation at the new National Constitution Center and cruised by Mayor Street's office.

A third made it through airport security and breezed through federal X-ray machines in Camden.

The Eagles managers say the city's signature sandwich is a threat to security at their new venue, Lincoln Financial Field. At least, that's what they cited when they banned hoagies and other bring-in food. Not the fact that they'll be selling their own for $6.50, as much as $2 more than the going rate.

To put the security rationale to the test, The Inquirer sent reporters with hoagies to some of the most security-conscious public places in the region.

The hoagies infiltrated Independence Hall, City Hall, three federal buildings, Philadelphia International Airport, county courthouses in Camden and West Chester, and more.

Still, it's one thing to get a hoagie into the Chester County Courthouse, quite another to get one into the White House.

So, an Inquirer reporter in Washington took a hoagie on his rounds, triggering no alerts at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the Capitol, or a Senate office building.

To be fair, many of these sites have something the Eagles don't: screening devices to detect weapons hidden in hoagies - or in shoes or pockets, for that matter.

Apprised of the hoagie caper, Eagles spokesman Ron Howard said the team would not elaborate on why they pose a threat at the stadium, but not the White House.

The hoagies traversed highways, crossed bridges and traveled city streets, all without incident, although one leaked oil and gooed some papers in a briefcase.

Here are their stories:

The Center City hoagie

Italian with sweet peppers, oil and vinegar; $5.50; from Spataro's in Reading Terminal Market.

Sandwich maker Walter Lefflebine said it's one of their most popular. "We have our own vinaigrette. Everybody loves it."

At the Criminal Justice Center, the hoagie , in a black satchel, glided through the metal detector. Although eating is forbidden in courtrooms, "you're allowed to eat in the hallway," guard Mark Roane said.

At City Hall, the hoagie roamed the corridors, ducked into Mayor Street's outer office, and spent a moment in Council chambers.

Later, guards at the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building spotted the hoagie in the X-ray machine but made no effort to protect federal employees inside from it.

"Looks like you brought a big lunch today," one guard said.

At various tourist attractions, open food and drink are generally prohibited. But as for a plastic-wrapped hoagie ...

At the Liberty Bell, guard Delroy Morris advised: "You can bring it, but you can't eat it. "

At the Constitution Center, a guard laid down the rules. "You can sit on a bench and eat it." And since no one investigated the hoagie's traveling bag, it sat through a multimedia presentation and wandered among statues of the document's signers.

At Independence Hall, so venerable that the National Park Service shut down a street to protect it, the hoagie sailed through security . Although it couldn't be opened in any of the buildings, guard Darlene Butler said the grounds were a different matter.

So there, on a bench near where Jefferson and Hamilton may once have eaten, the hoagie was consumed.

The presidential hoagie

A 10-inch Wawa roast beef hoagie, $4.39. Lettuce, tomatoes, onion, oregano, pepper.

At the first security checkpoint entering the federal check-printing plant that the President was visiting in Northeast Philadelphia, a uniformed federal officer frisked the human, looked in the briefcase and said, "You got your sandwich."

He ran a metal-detecting wand over the bag but did not open the paper wrapper.

At a second checkpoint, the human went through a metal detector, but not the hoagie. Another federal officer looked in the briefcase, saw the hoagie, and cracked, "Ah, we found it," then laughed and let it through.

As Bush gave his speech, the hoagie reclined in its briefcase about 30 yards away - well within field-goal range.

The airport hoagie

Italian-with-oil, $4.50, by Randy's Mini-Mart, Linfield, Montgomery County.

Not only is the eatery within the emergency zone around the Limerick nuclear power plant, it's also nearly in the shadow of the cooling towers.

A saleswoman said employees come in all the time, buy hoagies, and take them back to the plant, apparently in violation of no security rule, although an Exelon spokesman declined to comment.

Later, at Philadelphia International Airport, of the five guards on hand for X-ray scrutiny of a pair of shoes, a jacket, a purse, and the briefcase with the hoagie, not one balked.

Ticketed on a 12:20 p.m. US Airways flight to Boston, it headed to gate C29, where an attendant said the airline had no problem with people bringing food - smelly hoagies included - onto the plane.

"This is not a meal flight," she said. So it's BYOF - or BYOH.

It's not as if the airport doesn't sell its own. At Philly Steak and Hoagie Co. in the food court, Terrance Fleming said they sell scads ($5.25 for an Italian, "a Philadelphia tradition done right.")

Back in a car, the hoagie traveled past - not into - Lincoln Field, then to Camden.

At the federal courthouse there, the hoagie was almost flagged, but only because it was accompanied by a prohibited cell phone, which really could be rigged, a guard said. Incidentally, cell phones are not banned from the stadium.

As for the hoagie, "we wouldn't be concerned ... it's not metal," the guard said. Even if explosives were tucked under the salami, "it wouldn't work without wires and a battery. And I don't see any of them."

At the Camden County Hall of Justice, Officer Fred Bartling didn't even blink when the machine scanned the hoagie .

At lunch, employees bring in hot dogs from the street carts, and the foil sets off the metal detectors. So he inspects them, and nods them though.

The hoagie was similarly benign, Bartling said, adding facetiously, "No hot peppers. "

The D.C. hoagie

12-inch Italian, Parmesan oregano bread, $5.45 from a Subway sandwich shop.

At the staff and press entrance to the Senate side of the Capitol, an armed guard searched a briefcase and glanced at the hoagie inside before waving it through.

To be sure that security procedures were meticulously followed, the reporter pointed out the hoagie and asked if it posed a risk.

"Oh no, sir, not all," the guard responded before giving the hoagie free rein.

Guards at the White House and the Hart Senate Office Building, closed for months after the 2001 anthrax scare, also had a relaxed approach.

A White House guard said there was no ban on food. He was surprised to learn one is planned for the new stadium.

"Really?" he said, smiling. "I guess they want to sell more food. "

The West Chester hoagie

Italian, $5.25, from New York Sandwiches and Eatery, High Street.

The motto at New York Sandwiches is "serving the most outrageous food." But sandwich maker Arturo Rosas offered reassurance about the ingredients: "Provolone, salami, cappicola ham . . . and garlic-infused oil. Nothing dangerous!"

At the county courthouse, guards Dave Nilan and Andy Ruffatt let a canvas briefcase with the hoagie, chips and a pickle ride the X-ray conveyor, unremarked.

Nilan defended the hoagie's admission. "It didn't buzz," he said of the paper-wrapped sandwich's pass through the security machine. "If it was in foil, it would have buzzed."

Ruffatt shrugged dismissively. "There's no risk in a hoagie."

Contact staff writer Sandy Bauers at 610-701-7635 or sbauers@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writers Nathan Gorenstein and Chris Mondics contributed to this article.