The Harry Potter fandom’s flagship food wasn’t created by J.K. Rowling. It’s not the chocolate frog, or Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, or even Butterbeer. True to the community’s DIY ethic, it’s the Golden Snitchwich–a $3 peanut butter and Golden Grahams sandwich from the wizard punks behind Harry and the Potters.
Wherever wizards, witches, and nonbinary magical folk gather, you can find brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge slinging Snitchwiches and Snitchwich accessories when they’re not onstage playing songs from the perspective of Harry Potter. Like the band, the sandwich is based on the books, taking its name and concept from the Golden Snitch, the small, winged ball whose capture ends a Quidditch match. For an extra dollar, the salesperson (usually Joe) will sculpt the sandwich into the shape of a snitch and throw it at the customer’s mouth in what Paul calls athletic delivery.
Snitchwiches first appeared at LeakyCon, a conference for and by Harry Potter fans, in 2011. At cons like these, attendees—fraught with so-much-to-do excitement and eager to spend time with fandom friends they only see a few days out of the year—often forget to eat. Hunger (and ensuing hanger) is aggravated by venues offering underwhelming and overpriced food. The DeGeorges went into LeakyCon with this in mind, having spent years playing cons.
“We had been on tour at the time and we had been really intrigued by all the wacky food truck options we saw,” says Joe. “There was this one truck that sold fantasy meats—like unicorn meat, centaur meat, that kind of stuff. That sort of fantasy food concept was sort of brewing in our minds; we were like, we could make our own food truck. And when we got there and saw that there were no affordable food options, we went on a grocery store run and got started.”
While Joe came up with the Snitchwich branding on the drive to LeakyCon, Paul had already invented the sandwich in 2007 by adding Golden Grahams to a reliable honey wheat bread and peanut butter base.
“I’m a big fan of Golden Grahams,” he says. “Maybe my favorite cereal. That’s kind of where the sandwich came from. If I had one or two breakfast cereals in my cabinet, it would be Golden Grahams and maybe Grape Nuts. Big Grape Nuts fans, too.”
Golden Grahams keeps a low profile, as cereals go: Its Twitter account, inactive since 2010, has a humble tenth of Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s 17,000 followers. The product itself is ubiquitous across American grocery store shelves, but remains more background character than protagonist.
“Golden Grahams has a big PR problem,” says Joe. “When I tell people what’s in the sandwich, a lot of them are like, ‘Golden Grahams? What’s that? You mean graham crackers?’”
But fandoms embrace minor characters. Snitchwiches have built a dedicated, creative following that values the independent brand just as much as—and sometimes more than—Warner Bros. does. Enthusiasts develop spin-offs involving ingredients like Nutella or coffee syrup, create all sorts of fan art, and incorporate the ever-growing line of merchandise into their aesthetic identity. A few people have even gotten Snitchwich logo tattoos. Much of this stems from the brand’s goofy spirit and brilliant branding largely developed by Meredith Moore, who runs an art gallery called Wonder Fair in Lawrence, KS, with Paul. Just as much, however, stems from the fandom’s belief in the power and principles of their community.
At LeakyCon 2014, Snitchwich operations were shut down due to the Orange County Convention Center’s non-compete policy. The community rallied, voicing their support with #SaveOurSnitchwiches on Twitter. By the next morning, one group of friends had even made T-shirts for the cause.
“Snitchwiches were not causing any harm,” says Danielle Gennaro, who helped lead the shirt campaign. “Of course people fought back. That’s kind of what Harry and the Potters, and Harry Potter, teach us to do: to see stuff that’s not quite right, and take a step back, and question why things are the way they are. And obviously this isn’t, like, a matter of global injustice, but small stuff matters, too.”
The effort struck a chord with the DeGeorges. “That honestly saved the business,” says Joe. “We were ready to close up shop. We didn’t know what to do. But there was that inspiring outpouring of support.”
“In retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised at all,” says Paul. “That’s what fans do. They take something they love and just go all in on it. With Save Our Snitchwiches, that felt like—‘Wow, we’ve really got this con on our side. We’ve really got some strong advocates here.’ That just made us want to take it even further.”
In addition to strengthening the community’s allegiance, the shutdown gave way to what is now a core component of the Snitchwich experience: late-night Broom Service delivery. To work around the watchful convention center staff, the DeGeorges set up a system whereby they’d collect email orders throughout the day and deliver to customers’ hotel rooms after the conferences’ evening programming. It was a practical measure, but also exactly the kind of whimsical, stick-it-to-the-man hijinks that match the heart of the fandom and its source material.
That year’s events laid the groundwork for other such mischief—like Snitch by Snitchwich, an unofficial underground wizard rock festival within GeekyCon 2016, which earned the DeGeorges a cease and desist from South by Southwest. That’s how the core Harry Potter community operates: on its own terms, carving out its own spaces, making its own magic. It deals in a sort of alchemy. It turns ordinary things into gold.