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Entry from April 03, 2016
St. Paul Sandwich

The St. Paul sandwich is a sandwich that contains egg. The original “St. Paul” sandwich dates to the 1890s, and a “St. Paul” sandwich (or “egg foo young” sandwich) has been popular in Chinese restaurants around St. Louis (MO) since the 1970s.

“We were eating a couple of St. Paul sandwiches” was cited in a St. Louis (MO) newspaper in 1896. “St. Paul sandwiches” was cited in an Iowa newspaper in 1900, and a St. Paul (MN) newspaper had an advertisement for “the new and popular ‘St. Paul sandwich’” in 1903. A Kansas City (MO) newspaper in 1904 described the “St. Paul” sandwich as “chopped ham, chopped eggs and chopped onions,” and a “Minneapolis” sandwich as “the same as the St. Paul, only the onions are left out.” A 1905 newspaper from St. Paul (MN) had an advertisement for the J.S. Mills’ Lunch and Sandwich Room, where Denver, New York and St. Paul sandwiches were listed.

The “Denver sandwich” (or “western sandwich") is often confused with the St. Paul sandwich. Wes Izzard (1900-1983), a columnist, editor and publisher of the Amarillo (TX) Daily News, wrote many columns in the 1950s about Denver and St. Paul sandwiches. Izzard summarized in 1977 that a “Denver sandwich consisted of scrambled eggs with diced ham and chopped green peppers, served on toast” and a “St. Paul sandwich was like unto it—except it also contained chopped onion or onion rings.”

The name “Manhattan sandwich” is identical to the “St. Paul sandwich,” and the Manhattan sandwich possibly was named after the Manhattan Cafe on California Street in Denver, Colorado, where a claim was made that the sandwich was invented in 1907.

The Chinese restaurant version of the “St. Paul sandwich,” popular around St. Louis (MO) but unknown in St. Paul (MN), is egg foo young between slices of white bread, often served with pickle slices, an onion, mayonnaise and lettuce. “MARY’S DINER...featuring CHINESE FOOD...St. Paul Sandwiches” was cited in an Alton (IL) newspaper in 1977.

Wikipedia: St. Paul sandwich
The St. Paul sandwich can be found in many Chinese American restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as other cities in Missouri, including Columbia, Jefferson City, and Springfield. The sandwich consists of an egg foo young patty (made with mung bean sprouts and minced white onions) served with dill pickle slices, white onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato between two slices of white bread. The St. Paul sandwich also comes in different combinations and specials, such as chicken, pork, shrimp, beef, and other varieties.

One source has the origin of the St. Paul sandwich dating to the early 1940s, when Chinese restaurants created the sandwich as a unique dish that was in a more familiar sandwich form that would appeal to the palates of Midwestern Americans, an early example of fusion cuisine. According to local legend, the St. Paul sandwich was invented by Steven Yuen at Park Chop Suey in Lafayette Square, a neighborhood near downtown St. Louis; Yuen named the sandwich after his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Food writers James Beard and Evan Jones believed that the Denver or Western sandwich was created by “the many Chinese chefs who cooked for logging camps and railroad gangs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries” and was probably derived from egg foo young. They believed that the early Denver sandwiches were actually St. Paul sandwiches.

14 June 1896, The Republic (St. Louis, MO), “Republic Star Contributors,” pg. 11, col. 2:
Chaunce was out to see me to-day, and while we were eating a couple of St. Paul sandwiches with a scuttle of suds on the side, ...

30 November 1900, Waterloo (IA) Daily Courier, pg. 6, col. 5:
“St. Paul sandwiches ought to be called Saul of Tarsus sandwiches,” groaned the youth who felt as if he had eaten an old mackintosh.

Chronicling America
17 October 1903, The Appeal (St. Paul, MN), pg. 3, col. 2:
ATTENTION EVERYBODY! Go to Mills’ Sandwich room, No. 444 Robert street, to get genuine Mexican chili stew or chili mock, the new and popular “St. Paul sandwich,” oysters in any style, good coffee, all kinds of sandwiches to order.

27 March 1904, Kansas City (MO) Star, second sec., pg. 1, col. 4:
Nothing for sale in a White house lunch wagon costs more than fifteen cents—the White house price for a chicken sandwich—and many of the things prepared in the little kitchen cost only five cents each. Here are some of the things on the bill of fare: Wienerwurst, hot tamales, chili, eggs in all styles, baked beans, almost any kind of pie, sliced ham, chopped ham, ham and eggs, chicken sandwiches, St. Paul sandwiches, Minneapolis sandwiches, Trilby sandwiches and Hamburger steak. There may be others.

“What is a St. Paul sandwich?” the man in the apron was asked.

“It’s made of chopped ham, chopped eggs and chopped onions.”

“What’s the Minneapolis, then?”

“Minneapolis? That’s nine miles from St. Paul. Haw, haw, haw. It’s the same as the St. Paul, only the onions are left out. The Trilby is simply chopped ham and onion—like the St. Paul but there is no chopped egg in it.”

Chronicling America
29 April 1905, The Appeal (St. Paul, MN), pg. 3, col. 2:
New York Sandwich… .15
Denver Sandwich… .10
St. Paul Sandwich… .10

11 December 1913, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, pg. 14, col. 7:
St. PAUL.—Some reader may send in for you a St. Paul sandwich recipe.

Chronicling America
10 October 1915, University Missourian (Columbia, MO), pg. 8, col. 4 ad:
... St. Paul Sandwich, ...

4 March 1916, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Answer to Queries, pg. 6, col. 7:
JOHN.—St. Paul Sandwich: Scramble eggs in a bowl; chop ham fine; add onion and parsley.

28 April 1918, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Sport Salad” by l. C. Davis, pg. 10, col. 7:
Or Cheese.
Willard and Fulton will fight half way between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Somewhat like a St. Paul sandwich which is composed principally of ham and eggs.

13 November 1922, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “The Man on the Sandbox” by L. C. Davis, magazine, pg. 32, col. 2:
Our idea of a civic short order lunch is a St. Paul sandwich on Milwaukee rye.

9 June 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
A sandwich made of scrambled eggs mixed with chopped-up ham and green peppers is known as a Denver or St. Paul sandwich. There’s a slight difference. You add onions to one. The question is, which one.

13 June 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
Now that we are in Denver’s backyard, we are going to try to find out the difference between a Denver and a St. Paul sandwich. One has on-^s and the other hasn’t. We’ve never been able to learn which is which.

Mason says he thinks a Denver sandwich has only scrambled eggs and chopped ham, with neither green peppers nor onions.

We think a Denver sandwich has eggs, ham and pepper—but no onions.

Bart thinks a St. Paul has bacon instead of ham, along with green peppers, with the onions optional.

21 June 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
We have been flooded with correspondence about the difference between a Denver and a St. Paul sandwich. But we’re still confused.

Here are a few examples:

A CHEF NAMED M. B. “SHORTY” GOSCHO, who works at the Rancho Cafe in Elk City, Okla., writes:

“...If you would like to know the right way to make them, they are in a dozen or more cook books. The Denver has minced onion, pepper, ham and egg. The St. Paul is the same only bacon instead of ham.”
Consider this letter from Jack Larson, another chef who has been around, and who works for Lynmarks Restaurant in Amarillo:

“I want to pass my authority on to you in identifying the two sandwich fillings, the Denver and the St. Paul.

“Denver Sandwich—Beaten egg, cooked chopped ham, chopped raw onion. Mix together and scramble.

“St. Paul Sandwich—Beaten egg, cooked chopped ham, minced sweet pepper. Mix together and scramble.”

28 June 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
A local peace officer, who says he doesn’t want his name used under any circumstances, has entered the Denver vs. St. Paul sandwich battle.

This officer, who has cooked in civilian cafes and Army mess kitchens, insists that onions do not constitute the difference. They are optional with either sandwich. The difference lies, he says, in the meat. Chopped ham is used in Denver sandwiches and chopped bacon in St. Paul.

For the Denver sandwich, the ham is fried in butter, he says, and for the St. Paul sandwich, the bacon is fried in its own grease and the egg, tops of green shallots, chopped bell peppers and celery are added.

29 June 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
Still another Denver-St. Paul sandwich recipe, and this, like the others, contradicts all the rest. It comes from Earl A. Reynolds in Clovis:

DENVER SANDWICH: Minced ham, pickle, green peppers, and green onions fried with beaten egg. Serve between toast.

To order a Denver sandwich without onions, say “Denver sandwich and hold the onions, please.”

ST. PAUL SANDWICH—Minced ham and scrambled egg served between buttered toast.

1 July 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
More on the Denver-St. Paul sandwich controversy: John Scoggan. who runs the projector at the State Theater, says he used to serve Denver and St. Paul sandwiches 40 years ago at a little place in Bedford. Ind.

“It was run by a fellow named Johnny Cline, who was a long-distance bike racer,” says Mr. Scoggan. “In those days a St. Paul sandwich was made of chopped ham and scrambled eggs. But for a Denver sandwich we mixed hamburger meat with the egg.”

13 July 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
Here’s from a fellow named Borger who says he invented the Denver sandwich! His name is M D, Looney, and here is his letter:

“I have read everything you have had to say about the Denver and St. Paul sandwich, and I must say that you have had some very screwy versions presented to you by some of your readers in regard to same.

“I feel that I have waited long enough, so now I come forward with the statement that I am the originator of the Denver sandwich, having made the first one in the Manhattan Cafe on California Street in Denver, Colo., in the year of 1907 --the very same year that Maude Adams was playing ‘Peter Pan’ in Denver. Her manager’s name was Fred Grant Young. I was presented with passes to see her play by Mr. Young. For verification contact Miss Adams at Stephens College, Columbia. Mo.

“I herewith present you with the ingredients of the original Denver sandwich:

Two light brown slices of thin toast lightly spread with melted butter; 2 lettuce leaves; 1 beaten egg; small portion of finely chopped ham; small portion of finely chopped sweet bell pepper. Mix the last three and season with pepper and salt and fry until firm. Place between the lettuce leaves and toast.

“Now you have it. For the St. Paul, same as above only add finely chopped onions.”

14 July 1950, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
IF YOU WILL bear with us a moment, we have a couple of footnotes to the Denver sandwich controversy. One tends to support the claim of M. D. Looney of Borger that he invented the Denver sandwich in 1907.

Charlie Pryor of Amarillo backs Mr. Looney’s thesis when he writes: “I was key clerk at $30 a month at the Brown Palace in Denver when Maude Adams was there. Sandwiches was all the food I could buy as the hotel did not furnish me with meals or room. The Manhattan (where Mr. Looney says he produced his first Denver sandwiches) was in the theatrical district and was famous for its KC steaks.”

On the other side, one R. A. Olatz of Portland, Me., called us by telephone. Said he was a tourist passing through. He can recall, he said, buying Denver sandwiches in Portland as long ago as 1898. Then, he said, they were made only with an egg and a slice of onion.

Google News Archive
3 September 1950, Toledo (OH) Blade, “Nutritious Eggs Are Used In Many Of These Unusual Sandwich Concoctions,” pg. 81, col. 4:
(First Prize Winner)
2 slices of ham (cooked)
1 onion
1 green pepper
6 eggs

Chop fine two slices of cooked ham, one onion and one green pepper. Add six eggs well beaten with salt. Mix all together and fry in large spoonful like pancakes shaping with the turner.

Place while hot between slices of bread with slices sour pickles between, and you will have a sandwich fit for kings.
1823 Dorr St.,
Toledo 7, O.

27 October 1954, Greensboro (NC) Record, “Carolina Cookery” by Phyllis Morrah McLoed, pg. A-11, col. 4:
1.2 to 3/4 pound beef hamburger
6 to 8 eggs
seasoning as desired

15 February 1962, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
Sid Johnson, chef at the Holiday Grill in Dalhart, learned his trade under one of Fred Harvey’s best men. He clears up our Denver sandwich dilemma with this explanation:

“We served a Denver sandwich with beaten egg, diced ham. green pepper, and onion. However, also on the menu was a St. Paul sandwich which was made with beaten egg, ham, and green pepper—no onion. That was the difference in the two sandwiches.

“All these years I have made a Denver sandwich I have put minced onion into it.”

21 October 1963, The Christian Science Monitor, “A Name Away From Home,” pg. 14, col. 2:
Or that which in the Middle West gave designation to what easterners know as a “western” sandwich. West of the Mississippi it is necessary to be more precise and it is sometimes called a St. Paul sandwich, sometimes a Denver. Very likely it is called a St. Paul in Denver and a Denver in St. Paul, but it’s a good sandwich nevertheless.

14 September 1972, Mobile (AL) Register, “American Version Of Egg Foo Yung,” pg. 5-E, col. 1:
To serve Cheesy Egg Foo Yung Sandwiches, first spread the soy sauce mixture on toasted buttered buns. Serve two pancakes for each sandwich.

24 January 1974, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 18-F, col. 1:
Try Egg Foo Yung Sandwich

8 April 1977, Amarillo (TX) Daily News, “From A to Izzard” by Wes Izzard, pg. 1, col. 1:
And while we’re on the subject of food, what ever happened to the Denver sandwich?

A few years ago this column found itself refereeing a contest to determine the difference between a Denver and a St. Paul sandwich.

It finally turned out that the only difference was that the Denver sandwich consisted of scrambled eggs with diced ham and chopped green peppers, served on toast. No buns.

A St. Paul sandwich was like unto it—except it also contained chopped onion or onion rings.

25 May 1977, Alton (IL) Telegraph, pg. D-5, col. 4 ad:
1009 Belle Street, Alton
featuring CHINESE FOOD
St. Paul Sandwiches

12 March 1986, The Advocate (Stamford, CT), “A Taste of America” by Jane and Michael Stern, pg. B7, col. 2:
Which are the great sandwich cities of America? Our list includes New York for corned beef on rye, Chicago for Italian beef, Philadelphia for hoagies, Buffalo for beef on kummelweck rolls, St. Louis for the oddly named St. Paul (egg foo yung on white bread), ...

3 May 1992, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Chow—The Mein Event” by Joe Pollack:
I stood over a cook’s shoulder in an outdoor food stall and watched him rinse his wok, toss in some oil and, while it was heating, beat some eggs. They went into the wok, and so did some cubes of ham, green pepper and onion, plus a few bean sprouts. He flipped it back and forth a few times, folded it over - and realization struck. He was making a St. Paul sandwich, that mainstay of Chinese carryout places all over St. Louis, also known as a Denver or a Western, depending on your home town.

Well, almost, but not quite. He scooped the omelet out of the wok and draped it over some steamed rice on a plate that had mysteriously appeared at his side. No bread, pickle slices, lettuce or mayonnaise. I asked the man what he had been cooking.

“Egg foo yung,” he said. “You want some?”

8 May 1995, Nation’s Restaurant News, “Nichols nears 75th year by leaving well enough alone” by Carolyn Walkup, pg. 100:
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Nichols restaurant, which will celebrate its 75th year in business in 1996, has followed the philosophy of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Some of the same menu items have remained on the menu “since day one,” Nichols explained, including beef brains and scrambled eggs and the St. Paul sandwich, a combination of chopped ham, onion, egg and green peppers.

25 May 1998, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Culinary Anthropologists Michael and Jane Stern, on the Road to Good Food” by Judith Evans, pg. 1:
We take a look at the menu posted outside the Chinese restaurant across the street (at 9:30 in the morning, the restaurant, regrettably, is closed), which gives the Sterns a chance to ponder one of their favorite culinary mysteries: the St. Paul sandwich.

St. Paul sandwiches, found only in St. Louis and primarily in city chop suey joints, consist of an egg foo yong patty, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato between two slices of soft white bread. No one in St. Paul, Minn., has heard of St. Paul sandwiches, the Sterns said (nor had most of the audience at the Urban Forum).

“The fact that St. Louis has a hundred little hole-in-the-wall chop suey places is wonderful,” Jane says.

Dictionary of American Regional English
Volume IV: P-Sk

Edited by Joan Houston Hall
Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press
Saint Paul sandwich, n.
A sandwich with multiple fillings, one of which is egg.
1943 American Speech

17 August 2011, St. Louis (MO) , “St. Paul sandwich is a St. Louis original” by Pat Eby, pg. L2:
It’s an odd combination - a crispy-brown fried egg foo yong patty served between slices of white bread, with a slathering of mayonnaise, a leaf of iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes and dill pickles - but the St. Paul sandwich is a favorite St. Louis original.

This recipe is served at Fortune Express, 6738 Chippewa Street. “My uncle started the business in the Central West End,” said Rudy Lieu, the manager. “We still serve some of our first customers.”

You can order a St. Paul with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or just vegetables. The Fortune Express special, made with shrimp, beef and chicken, hits the taste trifecta. Some places smother their St. Pauls with brown Chinese gravy, but the eggy goodness of this sandwich doesn’t need any additional help.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, April 03, 2016 • Permalink