Blog By carausher on 7 June 2017

The History Of the Sloppy Joe

Everyone loves a good sloppy Joe. It’s easy to make and it’s even easier to eat. But most people don’t know the sloppy Joe’s origin story. In this article we hope to address the history of the sloppy Joe from its theorized beginnings to the other dishes and variations it has inspired.

History Of The Sloppy Joe

There are many theories regarding the exact history of the sloppy Joe and not a lot is known definitively. If we’re going to talk about the sloppy Joe origin story, we have to present two different theories. They are the two most popular theories about where the sloppy Joe came from.

The Midwestern Sloppy Joe Origin Story

The first theory about where the sloppy Joe originally came from originates in the midwest, specifically the state of Iowa. In the midwest, it is common practice to make loose meat sandwiches. It was the method many cooks used to stretch their limited supply of meat into multiple meals.

According to some food history experts, the sloppy Joe’s origin story begins in a restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa back in the 1930’s. The restaurant’s cook, and inventor of the sandwich, was named Joe, which explains the sandwiches name. These food historians point to Iowa’s long history of loose meat sandwiches as evidence that it’s likely that the sloppy Joe originated in the midwest.

The Cuban Sloppy Joe Origin Story

The Cuban theory paints a very different picture than the Midwestern one. This theory states that the sloppy Joe originated in Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Cuba. According to this theory, the sloppy Joe sandwich was named after the bar. So if the owner’s name was Steven the sandwich would have been known as the sloppy Steven.

The bar was named sloppy Joe’s Bar because, although the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole visited the bar regularly, it was dirty and unkept. Because the bar has a dirty, or sloppy atmosphere to it, it became known as Sloppy Joe’s Bar. Hence their original sandwich merely took on the name of the restaurant with a dirty reputation and was not named for being a messy sandwich.

Neither the Midwestern Theory or the Cuban theory can be confirmed definitively as the birthplace of the sloppy Joe. But both have interesting evidences that make them each appear at least credible.

From Its Beginnings To Modern Times

Although the sloppy Joe’s Origin is still contested, we can all agree that it’s a delicious sandwich. Today there are many variations on the sloppy Joe all of them put a modern twist on an old classic.

Here are some of those dishes inspired by the sloppy Joe:

Sloppy Joe Sliders – These sliders are a miniature version of the original sloppy joe. They’re great for sharing with a group at parties. They’re easy to make and take little time to cook. Once when the ingredients are prepared they only take 10 minutes in the oven. You can find the recipe here.

Sloppy Joe Enchiladas – This recipe adds a latin flair to what’s normally considered an American classic. It’s a simple 4 ingredient recipe that even those with the least degree of culinary talent should be able to make. Get the recipe here.

Deep Dish Sloppy Joe Casserole – This recipe is a bit more complicated than the sloppy Joe Enchiladas but it’s certainly worth the work you have to put into it. It’s basically a deep dish Sloppy Joe Pizza. The recipe is available here.

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole – sloppy Joes are usually served with some sort of side dish. One common side offered with sloppy Joes in school lunches is tater tots. This casserole recipe combines the sloppy Joe with tater tots to make one great meal. This recipe only requires five ingredients and less than an hour to prepare and cook. You can find this sloppy Joe recipe here.

Sloppy Joe Potato Skins – This is another great group recipe for those looking to bring something to the party that’s more unique than chips and dip. This seven ingredient recipe takes a bit longer to prepare than the other recipes because potatoes can take a while to cook. But that doesn’t make these sloppy Joe baked potato skins with smoked cheddar any less delicious. Click here to find the recipe.

It doesn’t matter whether the sloppy Joe is an American original or a Cuban invention. Either way it’s delicious. What else do you need besides ground beef, tomato sauce and bread? Whether it’s the original sloppy Joe recipe or one of the many dishes the original inspired, the sloppy Joe is a delicious cultural dish worth putting in your meal rotation schedule.