What do you know about Sloppy Joes?

When I decided to write a post on Sloppy Joes I had no idea they carried such a reputation.  Out of the blue, I did a quick search on Wikipedia  just to see if I could find out where they originated from.  I didn’t find a definitive answer on where, or how they got their start, but there are two good possibilities.

One claim comes from a cook named, you guessed it – Joe.  Joe worked for a cafe’ in Sioux City, Iowa.    The only problem with this claim is that his sandwich supposedly didn’t contain tomato sauce.  How can someone claim dibs on creating a Sloppy Joe sandwich that doesn’t contain either ketchup, tomato sauce, or Manwich? It isn’t really a Sloppy Joe without one of those three ingredients – is it?

The other claim was made by Sloppy Joe’s Bar  located in Key West, Florida.  Sloppy Joe’s opened their doors in 1933.   Their menu boasts “The Original Sloppy Joe Sandwich – IT MADE US & KEY WEST FAMOUS!”   I’d say it would be hard to refute a claim like that.

The Sloppy Joe is also known to have quite a few aliases too.  Here are just a few examples.  In Minnesota  they are known as  Sloppy Janes.  Maybe it was a Jane, not a Joe that invented this combination?  Virginia, West Virgina and Maryland blessed them with the name Steamers.  Northern Pennsylvania likes to refer to them as Wimpies, while the St. Louis area calls them Yip, Yips – huh??  And, in Rhode Island, they are better known as dynamites.  The list doesn’t end there either. I remember when I was in school, the lunch calendar referred to the Sloppy Joe as an Untidy Joseph.  I always thought that was a lame way for the school to promote a more politically correct name for the sandwich.  Untidy is just a little nicer way of saying sloppy.

Just like names, there are variations of the Sloppy Joe too.  My recipe is not out of a cookbook.  I picked it up watching, and helping my mom when I was younger.  It’s not a perfect science either.  The best way to tell how good your Sloppy Joe is going to be?  Taste, and adjust, until your taste buds are happy.  

The ingredients I use when making my Sloppy Joes are as follows:  1 pound of lean,  ground beef, 1/4 of a pound of mild, ground Italian sausage (optional), one half of a  green, red, or yellow pepper (diced), one large onion (chopped),  1/2 stalk of celery (diced), 1 clove of garlic (crushed), 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar (depends on how sweet you like your sauce), salt and pepper, a teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and lot’s of ketchup. 

Beef, sausage, yellow pepper, onion, celery, garlic, salt & pepper

Place the ground beef, sausage, pepper, onion, celery, and garlic into a large skillet.  Liberally salt and pepper the contents of the skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the meat is browned, and veggies are softened.  Remove from heat and drain the grease from the skillet. Then return the skillet back to the stove and add enough ketchup to cover the meat thoroughly. At this point also add the brown sugar, mustard, and Italian seasoning to the mix.

Ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard, and Italian seasoning

Cook on low heat until the ingredients are blended together and the sauce starts to bubble.  Simmer for an additional 10 – 15 minutes.  The sauce should thicken slightly during this process, and the meat will absorb the flavors.  Serve on fresh rolls.

Sloppy Joe

So, wherever you live,  and whatever you call them,  here’s to a simple and tasty supper!  What variations do you make to your Joes when you make them?


18 thoughts on “What do you know about Sloppy Joes?

    1. I’m from “across the river” in Wood River and our school cafeteria back in the early ’60’s called them Yip Yips and so did my husband’s aunt. That seemed to be the common name in our area.

      1. Family had been in Alton since the 1840s Lived on the bluffs miss it. I’m 68 live in Texas now but I grew up on “Yip Yips” I suspect it is a very narrowly defined regional slang but it covered Alton and surrounding areas east of the Mississippi.

  1. Pingback: Sloppy Joes – Slop Sloppy Joes - Roaming & Rooted

  2. I love sloppy joes but I’ve only had the manwich variety. Making them from scratch has to just kick the whole thing out of the park. yum-o

  3. My hubby loves these but I’ve never made them from scratch. I’m not a big fan so I only make them once in a blue, when I need to do dinner super quickly, and for that I usually keep a can of Manwich in the pantry …[insert horrified gasp].

    Actually last week I was watching food network and Bobby Flay had a sloppy joe throwdown … between that show and your post, I am starting to re-think my position on these messy suppertime sammies!

  4. Sloppy Joe’s are gooood and yours are making me want one! Ok, two. 😀 I never had a good recipe for Sloppy Joes. Someone told me to use canned chicken gumbo soup with ketchup and mustard for a “good” sloppy joe. It was interesting but definitely not the classic and it didn’t quench my desire for a messy, warm SLOPPY JOE!

    I am grateful to you for sharing this!


  5. Oh how I love sloppy joes! I haven’t had them in forever and now I’m craving them. Yours looks sooo good! 🙂

  6. Yummy. We only ate sloppy joes once or twice growing up, but I still remember how much fun I had watching my mom make them…and then eating them! Thanks for sharing such a tasty recipe. I need to give these a try again! I hope you had a great Monday…and that tomorrow is even better, my sweet friend!


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