Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sloppy Joe's

Sloppy Joe’s
Dorcas Annette Walker

My husband is quite the storyteller, who not only puts himself into the story changing voices to match characters and creating sound effects as he goes along, but with his imagination Dana is also good at adding or changing parts of a story on a whim. Our children always begged their dad to read them a story knowing that before the story ended they would be nearly scared out of their wits. Even simple nursery rhymes became hair-raising experiences. I have to credit my husband with getting my children to read at an early age in order to catch Dad when he suddenly veered from the written words. I can still hear my kids yelling, “No, daddy, that isn’t the way it goes,” and Dana answering, “How do you know? You can’t read.” Their little faces would concentrate on each word until they could identify them. The only place I didn’t let my husband tell stories was at bedtime to avoid nightmares.

I’ll never forget the first time our daughter asked why the barbeques we had for supper one night were called Sloppy Joe’s. My husband instantly got a gleam in his eye and before I could answer he said, “Sloppy Joe’s are called that because Mommy chops up this person called Joe, adds some stuff to him, and cooks him up.” Dawn immediately questioned, “That’s not true is it, Mommy?” Before I could reply, Dana grabbed his knife and waved it around saying, “And you know what? When we run out of Joe we’ll start on your guys. We’ll have sloppy Dawn first and then sloppy Dwight.” By now both of our kid’s eyes were huge and they were hanging onto the edge of the table. Then Dana put down the knife, grabbed his sandwich, took a big bite, and said, “Mmm, I love Sloppy Joe’s. I can’t wait until we have sloppy Dawn and sloppy Dwight.” I was quick to reassure my children that it was only another one of their dad’s tall tales. Now-a-days it is the grandkids that beg their Grandpa to tell read them a story.

The history of Sloppy Joe’s is a paradox. Owners of a restaurant in Iowa that is known for their sloppy sandwiches claim that it was named after a cook they had by the name of Joe, another hypothesis is that the name derived from the appearance of a man called Joe after eating a messy sandwich, while in Florida a bar called Sloppy Joe’s claims they invented the name. There are many varieties of Sloppy Joe’s with alternate names such as: Wimpies, Yip yips, Slush burgers, Barbecues, and Hot tamales. In parts of Northern New Jersey a Sloppy Joe refers to a cold deli-type sandwich. My Sloppy Joe recipe comes from an old Mennonite cookbook that I have used for years.

Sloppy Joe’s

2 lbs hamburger
1 small onion chopped
1 c catsup
2 tb br sugar
2 tb vinegar
1 tb prepared mustard
garlic salt, regular salt & pepper

In a large iron skillet fry hamburger and onion until brown sprinkling on the salts and pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with hamburger buns. This recipe serves eight!

Weekly tip: When doubling the recipe you can substitute tomato sauce or soup for part of the catsup!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

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