A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 11, 2011
Tavern Sandwich

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Tavern sandwich
A tavern sandwich is a sandwich commonly consumed in the Midwest region of the United States, originally consisting of unseasoned ground beef on a bun, mixed with sauteed onions, and sometimes topped with pickles, ketchup and mustard. The tavern has a number of different names. Two of the most often used are loosemeat and Maid-Rite. The sandwich was created in 1934 by Abraham Kaled at Ye Olde Tavern Sandwich Shop in Sioux City, Iowa.

Similar to a hamburger, despite the consistency of the meat, or a sloppy joe, without the tomato sauce, the tavern is served throughout the Midwest, but specifically in the state of Iowa. In the later seasons of the 1988-1997 American sitcom Roseanne, Roseanne Connor (Roseanne Barr) co-owns a restaurant called the Lunchbox in fictional Lanford, Illinois, specializing in loose-meat sandwiches. The sandwich is well known throughout Iowa and nearby regions, and is served not only in small local establishments, but also in large-scale franchise locations such as Dairy Queen. The Wichita, Kansas-based chain Nu Way Cafe additionally serves a version of the tavern/loosemeat sandwich simply called a “Nu Way”.

Maid-Rite began selling their version of the Loose Meat sandwich in 1926, 8 years before the Tavern Sandwich was created as cited in this article, so the actual sandwich itself predates the name Tavern Sandwich. In Northern Illinois this sandwich is also known as a “loose hamburger sandwich”. Another interesting point of note is that Maid-Rite actually steams the ground hamburger.

22 May 1941, Le Mars (IA) Globe-Post, pg. 5, col. 5 ad:
THE CURB LINER
Specializing in Wells Ice Cream and Milk, Tasty Tavern Sandwiches, Root Beer and other Soft Drinks.

1 December 1944, Rock Valley (IA) Bee, pg. 8, col. 3:
There will be hot vegetable soup, tavern sandwiches and pie for lunch.

31 January 1946, Sioux County Capital (Orange City, IA), pg. 5, col. 4:
Friends tell us that at the W.C.T.U. meeting last week, Tavern sandwiches were served.

7 June 1951, Milford (IA) Mail, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
LAKELAND DRIVE IN
(...)
NEW AT THE
KNOB HILL SNACK BAR
Featuring
Tavern Sandwiches
We Sell ‘em Exclusively

27 July 1951, Le Mars (IA) Semi Weekly Sentinel, pg. 1, col. 3:
When asked about student preferences, Miss Watson replied “I think they prefer loose meat sandwiches, such as taverns.”

29 November 1951, Hawarden (IA) Independent, pg. 27, col. 7:
Have a tavern sandwich at the city hall Saturday, Dec. 1, at the
Catholic Ladies bake sale and bazaar.

20 August 1953, Le Mars (IA) Globe-Post, pg. 8?, col. 3 ad:
HAM SANDWICHES—TAVERNS --
ICE CREAM—CAKE—COFFEE

19 August 1954, Le Mars (IA) Globe-Post, pg.1, col 7:
Serving ham sandwiches, taverns, hot dogs, ice cream, cake and coffee.

2 September 1954, Hawarden (IA) Independent, pg. 2?, col. 1:
Baked Ham Sandwiches, Taverns, Hot Dogs, Home Made Pies and Coffee will be served.

15 July 1957, Harlan (IA) News Advertiser, pg.1, col. 4:
The menu calls for loose meat sandwiches, hot dogs, potato chips, soft drinks, ice cream and milk, Wigness said.

16 August 1964, Sioux City (IA) Sunday Journal, pg. H10, col. 6 ad:
Ye Olde Tavern Inn
Home of the original Ye Olde Tavern Sandwiches
14th and Jackson Sts.
“Sioux City’s Oldest Privately Owned Restaurant”

2 July 1984, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, “The Butcher” by Merle Ellis,” pg. D2, col. 1:
Tavern burgers a timeless summer treat for children
(...)
Taverns originated (al east in my world) at Ye Olde Tavern, a little restaurant on 14th and Jackson in Sioux City, Iowa, where they were the house special and were devoured by hordes of hungry high school kids from Central. I went to “East High” on the other side of town, so we learned to make our own.

They’re so easy to make the kids can do it themselves in less time than it takes to make a trip to McDonald’s. And, I guarantee every kid from 5 to 50 will love ‘em!

TAVERNS
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup water
3/4 cup catsup
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder to taste
1 onion minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the water to a boil in a good-sized pan. Crumble the ground beef and add it to the water, along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring the mixture back to a boil for a minute or two, stirring to mix well and break up any lumps of meat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

1 December 1993, San Antonio (TX) Express-News, “Tavern sandwich deserves its fame” by Merle Ellis, pg. 3C:
Every town in America has some claim to fame. The city I grew up in, Sioux City, Iowa, has several special claims to fame. It may, for example, qualify as the popcorn capital of the world because Jolly Time popcorn comes from there.

Another claim to fame Sioux City has earned but not proclaimed nationally is as the originating place of the tavern. Not the saloon, bar or watering hole that you normally associate with the word, but rather the sandwich…

Sex-Crime Panic:
A Journey to the Paranoid Heart of the 1950s
by Neil Miller
Los Angeles, CA: Alyson Publishing
2002
Pg. 49:
In one of the trial’s lighter moments, Tacy questioned the police lieutenant about an interest his wife had in a Sioux City establishment, Ye Old (sic) Tavern. “Does your wife have a license to sell beer?” Tacy demanded.

“We sell root beer,” aid Dennison.

“But it is called a tavern, isn’t it?” Tacy persisted.

“That’s because we sell tavern sandwiches,” replied the policeman. (A “tavern sandwich” is Iowa lingo for a loose-meat sandwich, a sloppy joe.)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, January 11, 2011 • Permalink