What is the Pepe at Jimmy John’s?

Jimmy John’s is a popular sandwich franchise known for its speedy delivery and wide variety of sandwich options. One of the most beloved menu items is the Pepe, a sandwich filled with smoked ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Jimmy John’s famous homemade French bread. But what exactly is the Pepe and how did it become such a staple on the Jimmy John’s menu? Here is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about the delicious Pepe sandwich at Jimmy John’s.

What is the Pepe?

The Pepe is a classic Italian style sandwich served at all Jimmy John’s locations. It features thin slices of smoked ham and melted provolone cheese along with crisp lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Italian dressing. The ingredients are layered between two slices of Jimmy John’s signature French bread, which is freshly baked in-house every day.

The Pepe provides a balance of smoky, salty flavors from the ham and cheese paired with the fresh crispness of the vegetables. The mayo and Italian dressing add a tangy creaminess that brings all the ingredients together. The soft French bread holds the fillings securely while still allowing the flavors to shine.

Pepe Sandwich Ingredients

Here is a breakdown of the main ingredients found in a Pepe sandwich:

Smoked Ham – Thinly sliced ham that has been naturally hardwood smoked for extra flavor. Jimmy John’s uses only high-quality smoked ham.

Provolone Cheese – Melted provolone cheese that adds a creamy, slightly sweet flavor contrast to the ham.

Lettuce – Fresh crispy lettuce adds a pleasant crunch.

Tomato – Sliced red ripe tomatoes for additional freshness.

Mayo – Real mayonnaise made with eggs and oil. Adds richness and binds the ingredients.

Italian Dressing – Vinegary oil and herb dressing provides tangy flavor.

French Bread – Freshly baked French bread creates the perfect sandwich holder.

Pepe Nutrition Facts

Here are the basic nutrition facts for a Pepe sandwich from Jimmy John’s:

Calories: 400
Total Fat: 13g
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 30mg
Sodium: 1370mg
Total Carbohydrates: 51g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sugar: 4g
Protein: 19g

As you can see, the Pepe packs quite a bit of flavor for 400 calories per sandwich. The combination of protein from the ham and cheese plus fiber and vitamins from the fresh vegetables makes it a relatively balanced meal.

History of the Pepe at Jimmy John’s

So how did the Pepe become such an integral part of the Jimmy John’s menu? Here is a look at the origins and background of this famous sandwich.

Creation by Founder Jimmy John Liautaud

The Pepe sandwich was created by Jimmy John Liautaud, the founder of the Jimmy John’s franchise. Liautaud opened the first Jimmy John’s shop in 1983 in Charleston, Illinois when he was just 19 years old.

The story goes that Liautaud grew up in an Italian family where he developed a love for Italian style sandwiches loaded with deli meats and cheeses. He began making the sandwiches to sell to friends and neighbors as a teenager. The positive response encouraged him to turn the sandwich into a business.

When Liautaud opened the first Jimmy John’s, the Pepe was one of the original sandwiches on the menu. It quickly became a top seller and a favorite of customers.

Jimmy John’s Expansion

As Jimmy John’s expanded across Illinois throughout the 1980s, the Pepe sandwich remained a menu staple. New franchise locations continued offering the Pepe.

By the time Jimmy John’s began expanding nationwide in the early 2000s, the Pepe had become one of the brand’s signature sandwiches. Today there are over 2,800 Jimmy John’s locations across 43 states, and every one sells the popular Pepe sandwich.

Why Customers Love the Pepe

The Pepe sandwich continues to have a cult following after all these years. Here are some reasons why customers love this Jimmy John’s classic:

– Nostalgic flavor combination – Smoked ham and provolone is a comfort food taste for many. It reminds them of Italian deli-style sandwiches.

– Perfect ingredient ratios – The balance of meat, cheese, veggies, and condiments appeals to a wide variety of palates.

– Fresh, high-quality ingredients – Customers appreciate that all ingredients like the ham, cheese, lettuce, and bread are fresh, not packaged or processed.

– Speedy service – Jimmy John’s is known for fast sandwich prep. Customers can get the Pepe quickly for lunch or dinner.

– Reasonable price – At around $6-$7 for a whole sandwich, the Pepe offers value compared to other Italian deli sandwiches.

– French bread perfection – The freshly baked French bread elevates the Pepe, providing the perfect crunch and mouthfeel.

How to Order the Pepe

If you want to try this Jimmy John’s classic for yourself, here is a simple guide to ordering the perfect Pepe:


The Pepe comes in three sizes:

– 4 inch Little John
– 8 inch Original Pepe
– 16 inch Giant Pepe

Choose based on your appetite. The 8 inch Original is the best for capturing all the flavors in one sandwich.


The Pepe always comes on fresh French bread, but you can choose:

– Wheat (healthier option)
– Original white French bread

Stick with original white to fully enjoy the soft, fluffy textures of the bread.


Provolone cheese comes standard, but you can also upgrade to:

– American
– Pepper jack
– Cheddar

Provolone is best to complement the other Italian flavors.

Veggies and Dressings

Customize with your choice of:

– Lettuce – Romaine or iceberg
– Tomato – Regular or extra
– Onions
– Pickles
– Hot peppers
– Jimmy Mustard
– Mayo
– Oil and vinegar

Stick with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Italian dressing to get the true Pepe sandwich experience. Add extra veggies if desired.

Order for Delivery or In-Store

Order your customized Pepe:

– Online for delivery through the Jimmy John’s app or website
– In-person at your local Jimmy John’s store
– Call ahead for pick-up

Ordering online for quick delivery is often the fastest way to get your fresh Pepe sandwich.

Variations on the Pepe

While the original Pepe is a classic, Jimmy John’s does offer some seasonal or promotional variations on the sandwich to mix things up. Here are some of the special Pepes that have appeared:

The Hunter’s Club Pepe

This limited-edition Pepe featured the standard Pepe ingredients plus bacon, roast turkey, cheddar cheese, and Jimmy John’s Hunter’s Club sauce. It was offered in Fall 2021.

The Carnivore Pepe

Introduced in late 2022, this heartier version includes salami, capicola, and roast beef along with the original ham and cheese to please serious meat lovers.

The Vegetarian Pepe

Jimmy John’s occasionally offers a vegetarian take, removing the ham and adding extra veggies like mushrooms, peppers, cucumbers, and sprouts along with guacamole spread.

The Spicy Southwest Pepe

To highlight summer flavors, this Pepe variation includes spicy pepper jack cheese, jalapeño peppers, and a drizzle of Jimmy John’s new avocado lime ranch sauce.

The Maple Butter Pecan Pepe

Offered for a limited time in Fall 2022, this seasonal Pepe was topped with sweet maple butter pecans for a crunchy autumn twist.

While the variations get creative, the original Pepe remains the perennial favorite. But it’s fun to see Jimmy John’s innovate on this classic sandwich occasionally.

How Jimmy John’s Makes the Pepe

Much of the Pepe’s popularity comes from Jimmy John’s use of fresh, high-quality ingredients and their simple sandwich making process. Here is an inside look:

Ingredients Are Sliced In-House

All vegetables for the Pepe, including lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers, are hand-sliced fresh in each restaurant every day. The ham and cheese are also sliced on-site for optimal thickness and portion control. No pre-sliced or packaged ingredients are used.

Baking Fresh French Bread Daily

Jimmy John’s bakes fresh French bread continuously throughout the day so it’s always hot and fresh for sandwiches. Each loaf is made from a proprietary yeast-based dough recipe that results in the perfect crisp exterior and soft, fluffy interior.

Layering the Ingredients

Employees assemble each Pepe sandwich individually by hand following a specific layering method:

Bottom bread > Mayo > Italian dressing > Ham > Cheese > Lettuce > Tomato > Top bread

The ingredients are stacked in this exact order to maximize flavors and textures in each bite.

Wrapping Snugly

After assembly, the Pepe is wrapped tightly in butcher paper to keep the fillings secure. The paper also absorbs excess moisture as the sandwich rests for a few minutes before serving or delivery.

Speedy Fulfillment Process

Thanks to fresh in-house ingredients and an efficient sandwich making system, most Jimmy John’s restaurants can prepare the Pepe in under 60 seconds start to finish. This allows for fast fulfillment of delivery and take-out orders.

It’s the little details like slicing vegetables daily and layering ingredients in a specific order that result in a superior Pepe sandwich. Jimmy John’s has perfected the process.

Pepe Sandwiches at Competitor Restaurants

The Pepe is a unique Jimmy John’s menu item, but some competitors have sandwiches with similar ingredients and flavors. Here is how the Pepe sandwich compares to offerings at other restaurants:

Restaurant Sandwich Name Ingredients
Jersey Mike’s Original Italian Ham, prosciuttini, cappacuolo, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, oil & vinegar
Firehouse Subs Hook & Ladder Smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, Monterey Jack, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, mayo
Subway Black Forest Ham Black Forest ham, lettuce, tomato, onion, green peppers, mayo, mustard, oil, vinegar
Potbelly Wreck Salami, angus roast beef, turkey breast, smoked ham, Swiss, cheddar, mayo, mustard, onion

While these competing sandwiches have similar deli meat, cheese, and veggie ingredients, the Pepe remains the classic take on the Italian deli-style sandwich. The balance of ham, provolone, crisp vegetables, and Jimmy John’s signature French bread sets it apart.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Pepe

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the famous Pepe sandwich from Jimmy John’s:

Is the Pepe sandwich spicy?

No, the standard Pepe sandwich does not contain any spicy ingredients. The mild flavors of the ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomato make it a sandwich most people can enjoy. You can optionally add hot peppers or pepperoncini for some heat.

What is the calorie count for a Pepe?

An 8-inch Pepe sandwich contains approximately 400 calories, depending on exact ingredient customizations. A 16-inch Giant Pepe has around 800 calories.

Does the Pepe sandwich contain gluten?

Yes, the Pepe is made on Jimmy John’s fresh French bread, which contains gluten. An alternative gluten-free bun can be requested for an upcharge. All other Pepe ingredients are naturally gluten-free.

Can I make adjustments to the standard Pepe?

Yes, you can customize your Pepe by choosing different bread, cheese, veggies, and condiment options. Popular adjustments include adding onions, pickles, or avocado spread.

Is the Pepe available as a club sandwich?

Jimmy John’s does not currently offer the Pepe in triple-decker club sandwich form. The closest option would be the Hunter’s Club Pepe, which adds turkey, bacon, and cheddar cheese to the traditional Pepe.

What is the shelf-life of a Pepe sandwich?

The Pepe is best when eaten fresh immediately after assembling. However, it can retain quality for up to 8 hours when properly refrigerated. Reheating in the oven or microwave can refresh the bread.

The Pepe: A Jimmy John’s Staple

The Pepe sandwich has been satisfying Jimmy John’s fans for over 30 years now. This Italian-style deli classic continues as a menu cornerstone thanks to its crave-worthy combination of ingredients. While new, innovative sandwiches may come and go, the Pepe remains the go-to choice for a refreshing, flavorful meal.

So next time you’re debating where to get a quick, tasty sandwich, consider ordering the signature Pepe from your local Jimmy John’s. With its thin-sliced ham and melted provolone cheese piled high on fresh-baked French bread, this sandwich definitely lives up to the hype. The Pepe is the perfect embodiment of the Jimmy John’s commitment to using only the finest ingredients to create sandwiches you can’t help but love.

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