New Jersey Sloppy Joe, ground beef, fughet about it!
When I was a kid growing up in the Bronx a Sloppy Joe sandwich was ground beef, a sweet tomato sauce, salt, pepper, some finely chopped green peppers, and onions, and the sauce had ketchup, maybe a little garlic and Worcestershire sauce.
After you cooked those great ingredients you threw that on a toasted potato roll. Boy, I ate those sandwiches like M & M’s. The original Sloppy Joe, historians say was created in Sioux City, Iowa when a chef added canned tomato sauce to his ground beef. The Sloppy Joe got a pretty big push with the success of Manwich, which was Sloppy Joe sauce in a can, and you just add ground beef. The commercial was a staple on national TV throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
This version of Sloppy Joe is nothing like that found in Maplewood and South Orange, New Jersey. The Jersey version was created back in the 1930s at The Town Hall Deli. It was created by the owner of The Town Hall Deli when he traveled to Cuba where he paid a visit to Sloppy Joe’s Bar and the Sloppy Joe was the bar’s signature sandwich.
The sandwich is made with rye bread or dark bread, crusts removed, Swiss cheese, lunch meat, usually turkey and pastrami or roast beef, coleslaw, and Thousand Island dressing. It’s layered like a club sandwich with an extra piece of bread in the middle. It is good, very good. So the next time you or the kids yell out we want a Sloppy Joe make sure it’s a Jersey Sloppy Joe.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.