top of page
  • jr81568

History of Sloppy Joe Sandwiches: A Popular American Sandwich

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

The Sloppy Joe sandwich originated with a man named Jose Abeal Otero that owned a bar in Havana. The time was 1917-1919. He changed the name of the bar to Sloppy Joe's Bar. Jose wanted to add some food to the menu to go with the drinks they sold at the bar. He developed a shredded beef sandwich with tomatoes and spices on a roll and another sandwich made with ground beef, capers, and onion.

Photo Source Commons: Wikimedia. org

Ernest Hemingway the author often frequented this bar in Havana when traveling and brought the recipes back to the United States. Ernest Hemingway's friend Joe Russell opened a bar located in KeyWest Florida during the 1930's. It was called The Silver Slipper and later changed it to Sloppy Joe's. The bar started serving beef sandwiches similar to the menu in Havana.

Joe Russell became Hemingway's boat pilot and often went fishing with the author. He was a rum runner in Prohibition time going from Key West to Havana and bringing back rum and whiskey for customers. He once had to move the bar once due to a fight with the landlord and managed to do this quickly after the lease expired.

Some consumers believe Sloppy Joe's originated from Sioux City, Iowa in the 1920's and 30's. It was due to housewives looking for economical sandwiches to make at home. Ye Old Tavern claims to have invented the recipe in Maid Rite, Iowa. They were called loose meat sandwiches.

Hunts Tomato Sauce created Manwich a tomato sauce with seasoning that could be added to ground beef. It was advertised as a complete meal. All the cook needed to make the sandwich was add ground beef, Manwich sauce, and put it on a rolls. They capitalized on the recipe making it an easy meal for home cooks and restaurant to make. The sauce has tomatoes and spices.

Manwich had a heat and serve entree sold in the refrigerated section of supermarkets. It contained both the sauce and meat and could be heated in the microwave or on the stove. Manwich today comes in several flavors and is still a popular easy meal for consumers. It is another version of the Sloppy Joe sandwich.

National Sloppy Joe Day is on March 23, 2023. There are many online sites with delicious Sloppy Joe Recipes. The traditional recipe made with ground beef and fresh ingredients makes a delicious sandwich that you and your family can enjoy. James Beard included the recipe in his cookbook because it was popular with American consumers.


History of Sloppy Joes located on Restaurant website

Where Did Sloppy Joe's Come From? by Sarah Ramsey, Wide Open Eats

Photo Source: Cayobo/Flicker

Sloppy Joes Recipes

There are many different Sloppy Joe Recipes online. This is a variation using red pepper, red chiles, and onion.

Spicy Sloppy Joes With Onions and Red Peppers

1 tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil

1 red bell pepper minced fine

1/2 yellow onion minced fine

2 dried red jalapeno peppers seeds removed and minced

1-pound organic or regular ground beef

1 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon spicy mustard

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup tomato sauce

Hamburger or sandwich rolls to serve it on


You will need a sauté pan or fry pan, wooden spoon to mix and stir, knife, cutting board, colander, and serving spoon.

Start by washing the pepper and onion in a colander or warm water. Cut the bell pepper, remove seeds, and stem, and discard. Mince the pepper into small pieces and put in container. Cut off both ends of onion and remove skin and discard. Cut the onion in half and dice and mix with bell pepper. Remove seeds from dry jalapeno pepper and mince to small pieces. Add with other vegetables.

Heat oil in the fry or salute pan on the stove over medium heat. Add hot pepper, the onion and bell peppers and cook 10 minute or more. Add the ground beef and let cook until browned. Add soy sauce, spicy mustard, paprika, minced garlic, and tomato sauce. Mix well. Let cook until the liquid is absorbed.

Serve on hamburger or sandwich roll with French fries or rice on the side.

Serves 4

70 views0 comments


bottom of page