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I survived the HBK sandwich at Primanti Bros.

PITTSBURGH – The HBK Line has been a sensation for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Named for forwards Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel, it’s a line that’s inspired T-shirts; a Game 5 visit from the line’s namesake, pro wrestling icon “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels; and, in perhaps the highest honor ever bestowed to a Pittsburgh sports legend, a sandwich at Primanti Bros., those food artists who specialize in putting carbs on carbs on carbs.


This is the ‘HBK’ sandwich. We met around 4:30 EST on Sunday, or roughly three and a half hours before faceoff.

What you’re seeing here are some Primanti Bros. staples:

- Two giant slices of white bread

- Cole slaw, of the dry variety, rather than the slop at your summer BBQ that looks like someone dropped a cabbage in baby vomit.

- French fries, because you absolutely hate yourself.

The ‘HBK’ in the HBK sandwich was fried ham and fried kielbasa. The ‘B’ is allegedly bacon, but I’m fairly certain that’s to throw everyone off from the fact that it’s actually for ‘bypass.’ 

The first thing you notice about the sandwich is that bread can barely contain it, like trying to stuff a hippopotamus in a speedo. The trick is to flip the thing over, so the meat goodies are on top. For whatever reason, this enhances the structural integrity.

(OK, the actual first thing I noticed was the tomatoes I asked not to be included were perched atop the slaw. While they were easily extracted, their acidic seedy goo had already permeated the innards. Tomatoes ruin a sandwich. Facts.)

The initial bite is a meat-gasm: The snap of the kielbasa and the succulence of the ham and the sinfulness of the bacon and the ‘slightly above the legal limit’ carbs.

The subsequent bites are equal parts delicious and debilitating.


Oh man, this was nearly the KO point for your boy. So close and yet so far, the fries weighing down my stomach like someone spackled the inside of it.

But in this dire hour, I thought to myself: WWPKD?

What Would Phil Kessel Do? 

He’d finish the damn sandwich, that’s what he’d do. And then he’d skate like the wind in Game 5 afterward, because that’s who Phil Kessel is.

Me? I didn’t even have to skate after eating the Devil’s Meat Brick. I just had to waddle to the arena to watch Phil skate.

Buoyed by this logic, I hunkered down … 


… and finished it.

Well, save for the ghastly tomatoes.

Roughly an hour later, I feel like I’m moving at about one-third the speed. I feel like the potatoes have set up some sort of blockade at the top of my digestive tract. A single bead of sweat fell from my forehead on the walk to the arena. I swear it tasted like pork drippings.

All in all, the HBK sandwich is a lot like Shawn Michaels himself:

A showstopper!

(If in fact the “show” is “functioning in life without feeling like your stomach dropped anchor and that a potato impregnated you and that you want to curl up and sleep until it’s all over.”)

Ten out of ten would eat again.


Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.



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