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~ The Story Behind Our Retro Sloppy Joe Sandwich ~

IMG_4636In a nutshell, this one really is all in the name -- the Sloppy Joe sandwich.  The colorful name alone should clue the participant in for what they are about to experience, and, it's a messy one. After all, they didn't name it the neat-Nick sandwich.   The hamburger-type bun gets heaped with a loose, spoonable ground-beef and onion concoction then a tomato-based sauce gets stirred in, making it possible for the contents to drip out of the bun during consumption (or should I say impossible for the contents to stay in the sandwich during consumption). Some folks skirt around this by laying the bun halves side-by-side on a plate, topping them with the meat mixture, then eating it using a knife and fork -- me thinks that kinda takes all of the sport out of it.

IMG_4632The All-American sloppy Joe sandwich -- it was one of the most popular comfort foods of the 1950s. Moms across America were making them for their families, they quickly made their way into school lunchrooms, and, sloppy Joes showed up at parties, picnics and potlucks for all occasions.  Whether you love 'em or you don't, one bite of this now-retro sloppy-mess of a ground-beef and savory tomato-sauced sandwich is certain to conjure up a childhood memory or three.   As for me, I loved them, and my mom made them just the way I liked them -- using celery instead of the more commonly used green bell pepper, plus an extra spoonful of brown sugar because I liked them extra sweet and savory.  Sloppy Joes made many snow days, Summer days, and yes, even sick days better.

Part of the charm of the Sloppy Joe is that it's adaptable to suit anyones palate.  If you hate onions, don't put 'em in.  If you love garlic, add it.  Some like it hot -- for you folks, add a dash or three of hot sauce.  Side dishes are pretty easy to decide on too.  The sandwich pairs great with potato chips, potato salad or coleslaw -- some folks even like bake beans with theirs.

6a0120a8551282970b0278806da191200dThe original term "sloppy Joe" had nothing to do with a sandwich.  It was slangy code for any cheap restaurant or lunch counter-type establishment with a very relaxed dress code.  As for how the sandwich came to be named "sloppy Joe" (as if its being sloppy to eat isn't reason enough), the most believable story is that, in 1926, a creative restaurant cook named Joe, working at Floyd Angell's Cafe in Sioux City, Iowa, added tomato sauce and green pepper to what midwesterners refer to as "loose meat" sandwiches (which are a mixture of seasoned sautéed ground beef and onions served on a hamburger bun and sometimes topped with mustard and ketchup). That said, by the mid 1940s, the sloppy Joe sandwich was firmly established in America, and, in 1950 Libby introduced its canned Barbecue Sauce and Beef Sloppy Joe, which was the first of several canned sloppy Joe concoctions that could be kept in ones pantry -- all anyone needed to do was open the can, heat the contents and spoon it onto hamburger buns.  The Manwich was introduced in 1969 and lives on today -- it's a tomato-based sauce that one adds to their own browned ground beef.

Try my version of the  classic ground-beef sloppy-Joe sandwich:

IMG_4632 2And then try my version of the sloppy-Joe grilled-cheese sandwich:

IMG_4684"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


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