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Culinary Corner: Talking Spiedies on the ‘Understanding Upstate’ Podcast

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I’m a huge fan of spiedies (SPEE-deez), a kebab of marinated meat that’s popular in the upstate New York city of Binghamton, where I went to college in the 1980s. Spiedies have gotten sporadic attention over the years from the national food media, but they’ve stubbornly remained as a local/regional specialty and have never really broken through beyond the Binghamton area. (Like a lot of regional foods, they’ve been used as the basis for a minor league baseball one-day rebranding, as the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies have played as the Binghamton Spiedies.)

Anyway: I’ve written about spiedies for varous publications, including the first issue of my own zine, Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption, in 1993. Here’s what I wrote at the time (this photo is from my only remaining copy of BF#1):

As it happens, there’s a podcast called Understanding Upstatewhich is all about upstate New York regional culture. The hosts, Jim Search and Rob Adler, were planning to do an episode about spiedies and came across my spiedie scribblings in the course of their preliminary research, so they asked if they could interview me. I happily agreed.

The podcast episode just went live today. The whole thing is worth listening to, but you can skip to the 38:16 mark if you just want to hear my segment:

Between this and that new NFL Explained episode about jerseys, I guess this is my big day for interview appearances. Funny how things sometimes align that way!


Comments (25)

    My man.

    State Fair Spiedie Sauce is the spice of life and you don’t even need to have small cubes of chicken for it to be effective. I love marinating chicken breasts in Spiedie Sauce and putting them on the grill. Ah, heaven.

    Edit: Binghamton Rumble Ponies, not ruble ponies, comrade :)

    Thanks for this, my wife grew up in Endicott and I’ve been singing the praises of spiedies for decades! Makes me wish Lupo’s Char Pit would ship to Las Vegas!

    I went to college and met my wife in Binghamton. I wish that place were better, and it holds a dear place in my heart but spiedies are the culinary equivalent of Bingo. It should just be so much more than what it is, and that’s why it’s stayed regional. It’s just too simple and lacks uniqueness.

    FWIW, Spiedie sauce has been available in my local grocery store in Alexandria, VA for at least a decade.

    I went to school in Atlanta with a guy from Binghamton. He had his parents ship some homemade Spiedie marinade for a fraternity rush party. The store bought Spiedie marinades do not do it justice. I still have their recipe I requested from his parents 30 years ago. Simple, easy and versatile. Love it.

    If you’re willing to share the recipe, Jon, I’d love to see it.

    I have my own homemade version, but it’s always interesting to see others!

    Me too…please post that, thanks…
    Never had Spiedie sauce but I’ve been grilling chicken like that for a few years I just wrap a piece of bacon around mine and slow grill it…..

    Endicott native here, and yes, Lupo’s over Salamida’s all day. Is Cornell chicken also a regional thing? That marinade on split chicken breasts is crack.

    The region is a low key foodie town: Aside from spiedies, there’s an abundance of truly great Italian restaurants and pizza places.

    I used to do competition BBQ so I’ve sampled a LOT of different grilled/smoked food. Have never heard of “spiedies”. I will definitely research this and give it a try.

    So it’s the sauce that makes them “Spiedies” correct? If anyone doesn’t mind, how would you describe it? Otherwise I’m not seeing anything unique/local, but just a kebab haha.

    The way Paul described it originally, “like Italian dressing but definitely goes beyond the realm of the ordinary”, is a pretty good description. It’s vinegar-y with some herbs and spices. It doesn’t sound like much, but it makes for tasty chicken.

    Enjoyed speedies on trips to visit one of my college buddies who lived in East Windsor and was a park ranger for Broome County. What a beautiful part of the country that is.

    Cobleskill reporting. Speedies and Brook’s Chicken and Ribs in Oneonta have been part of my entire life as an Upstater. I could add others like Garbage Plates in Rochester, Grandma’s Pies in Albany (no longer there), and the list goes on.

    I wonder if it is a lot like Wicker’s marinade? Wicker’s is pretty popular here in the

    I will be finding out pretty soon :)

    My girlfriend went to Binghamton before you and swears by Poncho’s Pit. Sadly they are gone now. We have to stop for Spiedies every time we are up that way.

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