Food & Drink

The Origins of the Sloppy Joe Sandwich in New Jersey

cf751d2b8b7289ccda95_Screen_Shot_2017-05-01_at_10.50.22_PM.jpg
cf751d2b8b7289ccda95_Screen_Shot_2017-05-01_at_10.50.22_PM.jpg

Did you know that according to New Jersey lore, the original sloppy Joe sandwich was created in 1935 at Town Hall Deli in South Orange? And that the idea for the sandwich came from a bar called Sloppy Joe’s in Havana, Cuba?

Thomas Sweeney, a Maplewood politico at the time, was vacationing in Cuba and a frequent visitor to the bar. The bar’s proprietor would set out fixings so that his patrons could assemble a sandwich for themselves. Sweeney fell in love with the combination of ingredients, and upon his return to New Jersey asked the owners of Town Hall Deli to re-create the sandwich he had at Sloppy Joe’s bar.

The sandwiches caught on, as did the name, and remain a staple on deli menus throughout New Jersey.

Sign Up for E-News

As indigenous New Jerseyans know, this sandwich is not to be confused with the hot, ground beef-and-sweet-tomato-sauce sloppy Joe served on a bun in school cafeterias across America. It has nothing to do with Manwich or some variation of Hamburger Helper.

Our sloppy Joe is a triple-decker sandwich on rye bread with sliced deli meat (typically ham, turkey, roast beef or corned beef), Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing, cut into three wedges. The original Cuban sandwich was made with ham and cow tongue, a combination that has not withstood the test of time.

Creating the sloppy Joe is somewhat of an art form that requires uniformity in the layering and spreading of ingredients. Town Hall Deli uses long Pullman loaf pans to bake their own rye bread, slices the bread very thin, uses two kinds of meat and puts a swipe of butter on the bread. They use a dry coleslaw (versus mayonnaise-based) and trim the crust off the bread, creating a more precise sloppy Joe sandwich than most delis. 

Equally famous for the New Jersey sloppy Joe is Millburn Deli. However in Millburn, they aren’t so sure the sloppy Joe sandwich originated in Cuba. Owner Diane Fluke believes the sandwich is so-named because it’s (indisputably) messy to eat. Their sloppy Joe was in contention for TV personality Adam Richman’s “Best Sandwich in America” in 2013.

Millburn Deli does not trim the crust, and they only swipe the bread with butter when requested, or when sandwiches are being delivered overnight to another part of the country, because a layer of butter helps keep the Russian dressing and coleslaw from creating a soggy sandwich. 

Both Town Hall and Millburn delis routinely ship their sloppy Joes to native Jerseyans with a craving throughout the United States. For Town Hall, Florida retirees and California foodies are the most frequent overnight shipping recipients — they do a lot of Hollywood-related business.

For Millburn Deli, it’s Millburn High alums living in California, followed by Florida and New Mexico residents. Super Bowl Sunday is typically the busiest day of the year for sloppy Joe orders at both delis.

Whether it’s being transported across state lines in a cooler riding in a car, in the overhead storage bin of a plane or train, or via professional next-day delivery service, it is heartening to know that the sloppy Joe sandwich is always within reach of transplanted New Jerseyans.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Belmar/Lake Como

Princeton Students Achieve Success: Bog Turtle Designated State Reptile

June 19, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Legislation inspired by students from Princeton designating the endangered bog turtle as the New Jersey state reptile has been signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“I am so proud of the successful effort of students at Riverside Elementary and their teacher, Mark Eastburn, to name the bog turtle as New Jersey’s official reptile,”  said Sen.

Could Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational Be on Justify's Agenda?

June 13, 2018

ELMONT, NY — Triple Crown winner Justify came out of his stall to meet the media bright and bouncing on the morning after his gate-to-wire win in the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes.

When asked to assess his colt's win, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported, “We were watching replays of the race. He could have gone around again.”

The brilliantly colored ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_a38a751f90a4ce79ff11_bacsummertime5

Wed, June 20, 5:00 PM

Belmar Arts Center, Belmar

Summertime, Summertime

Carousel_image_4a1c64948c48a958cf1e_belmarwomansbookgrannyattic

Fri, June 22, 11:00 AM

Taylor Pavilion, Belmar

Belmar Woman's Club Book and Granny's Attic Sale

Carousel_image_7ae118156f1d20aed5df_bbppyanoeplaza4

Fri, June 22, 6:30 PM

Pyanoe Plaza, Belmar

Friday Night Concert Series: Chris Turner and the ...

Carousel_image_e39a6027bb97b7e5457b_jumblesale

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

Calvary Baptist Church, Belmar

Calvary Baptist Church's Giant Jumble Sale

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

JCP&L Completes Inspections and Projects Before Summer to Enhance Customer Service Reliability

June 12, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ — Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has completed inspections and projects across its 13-county service area, including Monmouth County, to enhance customer reliability in preparation for the summer season.

The work included upgrading transmission and substation equipment, upgrading circuits and trimming trees along power lines.

Helicopter patrols are ...

Facebook Provides Verification Badges for All TAPinto Facebook Pages

TAPinto and its 75 partner sites have been verified on Facebook with the social media platform's blue badge, which is given to news organizations that meet Facebook's authenticity criteria. 

Facebook gives the blue verification badge to "eligible brands, media organizations and public figures," based on factors that include policy compliance and public ...

Belmar and Lake Como

June 2, 2018

Belmar Police Department reported the following arrests occurred in Belmar and Lake Como from April 1, 2018 to April 28, 2018.

BELMAR

Ryan Miles, 33, of Belmar was charged with contempt on an outstanding warrant after his arrest on April 1 on Route 35 by Police Officer Patrick McGill.

Lisa Perrault, 49, of Long Branch was arrested on 16th Avenue on April 6 by Police Officer Patrick ...