Won’t you go, a sloppy joe

Sorry, Australian cultural reference there. An old ad campaign from here in the 70s – Won’t you go a Chiko Roll. (Picture young bronzed Aussies gallivanting about the beach eating about 5000 kilojoules of deep fried – who ever knew what was in them). A popular deep fried takeaway food item available from every milk bar during that era they were sort of like a massive spring roll and the ends were delicious and crunchy but the centre was full of some dubious mix that included cabbage and other soggy things that burnt the shit out of your chin if they dropped onto it.

Anyway back to the sloppy joe. What’s the go with them? We don’t eat them here but I look at a lot of cooking sites and they show up all the time. As far as I can tell they’re mince on a roll and they always look kind of, well sloppy and messy and hard to eat and I can’t see the appeal of them. So what’s the story behind the sloppy joe? Where did the idea originate, does everyone in the USA really eat them, is there an occasion where you especially eat them and how the hell exactly do you eat them?

15 thoughts on “Won’t you go, a sloppy joe

  1. You eat what you can while the bun survives, and clean up after with a fork. Not recommended for fancy clothes, in fact swimwear might be a good idea so you can hose off. Sometimes they are just loose ground beef with peppers and onions, sometimes they are a bit more sticky, as if catsup could hold it all together.

  2. When I was living in Minnesota, a “sloppy joe” sometimes referred to a cheap diner, at least to anyone who was young in the 1940s. (My in-laws used the term. I was always baffled, since I never saw sloppy joe sandwiches served at restaurants.)

    It’s a popular dish at casual parties, particular for people gathering to watch a sports event on TV. Lately however I’ve noticed that the hamburger gloop has been replaced by pulled pork, which is essentially a marinated pork roast roasted or grilled until it’s falling apart. Since I’m vegetarian, I’ve never tasted the thing, but my carnivore friends assure me it’s delicious and not as messy as sloppy joes. I think sloppy joes became popular because it was a cheap, easy way to feed a crowd. I find it a little hard to believe something that can fall onto the carpet or the furniture, especially at a buffet supper eaten in front of the TV, can be popular with people who like a clean house.

    The Chiko roll sounds like a really large egg roll, the kind served at Americanized Chinese takeouts with lots of diced cabbage inside.

    • Everyone’s all over pulled pork here as well – and pork belly which doesn’t look appealing to me at all, just big slabs of fat.

      I don’t think anyone knows what’s really inside a chiko roll. Whatever they swept up from the vegetable market floor at the end of the day I’d say. No meat that I can remember. They were really popular in the 70s, especially from the beach kiosk and milk bars. The story goes that you can still eat one after it’s been sitting in the freezer for twenty years.

      Sloppy joes don’t look appealing at all – they don’t even sound appealing. Who wants to eat something that’s sloppy!

  3. Yeah it’s ground beef with a tomato sauce. They have special sloppy joe mix you can buy in a packet or a can (Manwich, usually). A toasted roll is probably better to manage them on. It’s not a special occasion kind of a thing. I remember I had a party in 5th grade and 2 girls had a contest and it was a draw, they each ate 8 (small buns but still we were like 10 years old).

    • Oh you guys have everything in a can! I saw this picture once of a whole chicken sliding out of a can which was disturbing. Your party ones would be called sliders now I guess, which is another stupid concept. If you want to feed a family you have to make about 50 of them.

      • sliders would have a solid patty. sounds like cranky’s party had mini sloppy joes.

        they’re really just a hamburger with minced meat instead of a patty, and a whole lotta tomato-based sauce.

  4. I’m odd, but most of the time I slather mustard on both sides of the bun, add a layer of dill pickle slices, and then a scoop (or two) of the meat/mixture – and then eat it as an open-faced sandwich with a fork.

    • That sounds more manageable. Most of the photos you see have heaps of the mince mix spilling out from the buns all over the plate. I’d rather have the mix in a bowl then spoon it onto the bun one bite at a time I think. Toasted.

  5. I grew up with sloppy joes. Haven’t had one in at least 12 years living overseas. My Mom used to make sure to buy unsliced buns and only make a small opening where she would spoon in the mixture so we wouldn’t make a mess. Worked a treat! I may have to get myself a can of Manwich sloppy joe mix when I go back home in December. They are really good with pickles and cheese…much more difficult to do if you don’t have a sliced bun though.

    • That’s like when my kids were small and ate hot dogs – we’d use an apple corer to take the centre out of a long roll then slip the hot dog and sauce in so they were easier to control. Can’t you just make your own manwich mix?

  6. This has been mighty educational. Our high school tuckshop had mince rolls, which I guess are similar – basically a buttered long bun with mince spooned in and a bit of cheese sprinkled on top. And now I want a Chiko roll.

  7. I had Sloppy Joes ALL THE TIME when I was tiny. Mother had a simple recipe: hamburger, mustard and catsup all jumbled together in a pot, then slapped on a hamburger bun. It was messy, but tasted rather gorgeous.

    • Your canteen was advanced, mine just had the basic dangerously warm meat pies and sausage rolls that had been sitting around all morning and cream buns – they were popular. I didn’t get to buy from the canteen often but when I did I’d always have a honey and nut sandwich, white bread.

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