Horseshoes, ponys

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Julia I
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2003/11/08 01:21:41 (permalink)

Horseshoes, ponys

Last week, on a road trip, I stopped in for lunch at a place called the Homestyle Cafe in Springfield, IL. One of their specialities, horseshoes, was written in neon on the window. The menu offered horseshoes as well as ponyshoes (for $1 less), and listed the types as hamburger, turkey, ham, sausage, steak, and possibly some others. No other explanation was given on the menu. When I asked the friendly waitress what they were, she said "You're not from around here, are you?" When I admitted that I was not, she described them, and said that hamburger was the standard.

I ordered a hamburger pony. What I got was a piece of toast on a plate, topped with a hamburger patty, then covered with lots of cheese sauce (not melted cheese or cheez-whiz), and finally buried under a pile of french fries. Not a meal for the nutitionally picky eater, but very tasty, and I finished it all. It was a large meal, and I don't know that I could have ever finished an actual horseshoe, which is essentially two ponies together.

The waitress told me that horseshoes are known all over Illinois, but I spend a fair amount of time in northern IL, and I have never heard of them before. While the two people that I asked in Jacksonville, IL (30 miles west of Springfield) knew what horseshoes were, and a local diner served them, no one further west or south had heard of them.

It was kind of a surprise to find a local speciality that the Sterns had (apparently) not heard of, and that had never been mentioned in these forums. Is there anyone outside of a 50 mile radius from Springfield that has heard of horseshoes and ponyshoes (or horses and ponys) or knows that they are common in their area? If so, do you know where they got their name?
#1

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    digger
    Junior Burger
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/08 09:35:38 (permalink)
    You my friend have discovered one of Springfield's treasures( along with chilli with 2 L's). Legend has it that the Horseshoe was invented by the chef(a Mr. Schweska) at the Leland Hotel which until 1970 was in downtown Springfield. The meat represented the horse's foot, the toast the shoe and the fries were the nails.Many eateries in Springfield serve this creation and take great pride in each ones unique cheese sauce( a hyped up welsh rarebit). In fact a local charity has an annual horshoe cook-off as a fund raiser.As a side note the standard choices for the maeat are, Hamburger, Ham, Turkey or bacon and tomato but at several restaurants you also have a choice of such fillers as, breaded pork tenderloin, italian sausage or buffalo chicken breast.I have often wondered how a horseshoe compares to a Kentucky Hot Brown?.
    #2
    mayor al
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/08 10:22:20 (permalink)
    Digger,
    Get rid of the fries, use Country ham and turkey, and stick it under the broiler to 'brown' the top as it's last step before serving and your 'Pony' would be a Hot Brown... or a close resemblence
    #3
    tiki
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/08 10:47:35 (permalink)
    Digger---chilli with 2L's?
    #4
    Julia I
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/09 10:29:21 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by digger

    In fact a local charity has an annual horshoe cook-off as a fund raiser.


    Digger - who usually wins? And where do you go for your favorite horseshoe?
    #5
    mousec
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/09 16:46:50 (permalink)
    This post brings back many memories. I attended Western IL University and one of our staples were horseshoes or ponyshoes. I can't recall the place that served them but I do know that the cheese sauce was made with beer. Also, they fries that they served were waffle cut, this made for a better surface for catching all of the gooey cheese.

    I have lived in Northern Illinois (burbs of Chicago) all of my life and did not hear of the horeshoe until I attended college. I think that this is really a central IL phenom and opposed to being a state specialty.
    #6
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/09 23:01:09 (permalink)
    Dearfolk,
    Perhaps the best local canned chili in the Eastern United States is Ray's Chilli from Springfield, chIllinois. Actually, "chilli" is the spelling that is used in England, but I can't fathom any outstanding chilli coming from there, chile.
    There is another brand of chilli that is made in Collinsville, chIllinois, closer to St. Louis. Maybe someone will fill that information in for me; I can only pretend to know everything (sniff) (stare at hand like they do in the comic strips when they're feeling smug).
    Always A Ray's Of Sunshine, Ort. Carlton in Athens, Georgia, Where The Best Homemade Chili Is At The Normaltown Cafe When The Amazing Travis Makes It... He Does An Even Better Job Than The Lovely Lauren Does, And That's Nigh Onto Impossible...
    P. S. ...Add 3 Large Drops Of Lea & Perrins Into A Bowl Of It And You Have A Platonic Dish. It don't get no better, friends.
    #7
    wudaben
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/13 01:00:00 (permalink)
    As a resident of Springfield I often find it hard to imagine what I would do if I ever moved out of the area and couldn't find a horseshoe, it just becomes second nature around here. Virtually everywhere in Springfield and most places in Central Illinois serve the meal. Toppings range from hamburger, ham, turkey, chicken, tenderloin, sausage and buffalo chicken. The cheese sauce can vary from a white to dark cheddar. Many places even serve breakfast shoes which can vary even more then the real thing. I have found that major chains such as Steak and Shake serve the meal but only in an area of about 50 miles from Springfield.
    #8
    wudaben
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/13 01:11:08 (permalink)
    On the Chili topic...I believe the Ray's canned chili comes from the central Illinois area but not necessarily Springfield. I do know that there is an annual chili cookoff between Illinois and Texas as each claims to be the Chili Capital of the world. The major difference between the two I believe is that Illinois chili includes meet where the Texas counterpart does not. Springfield plays host to a large chili convention during the summer months. The best chili in Springfield is a place called Joe Rogers' Original Recipe Chili Parlor (formerly called The Den).
    #9
    Scott Deeter
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/19 00:36:03 (permalink)
    wudaben:

    Can't speak for IL Chili, but Texas Chili DEFINITELY has Meat in it...and nothing but!! No Beans.

    Maybe it's the beans, then??

    TX style is VERY meaty, in a tomato based, spicy base.
    #10
    wudaben
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2003/11/19 11:49:54 (permalink)
    Thanks Scott...it must be the beans then. I used to work at a hotel that hosted the annual chili cookoff and remember that Texas chili was missing one of the ingredients us Illinoisans are accustomed to.
    #11
    mkrealtor
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2004/08/29 22:45:48 (permalink)
    Hi. Julia, Nov. 2003 you talked about horseshoes. Hopefully, someone has told you the story. In case you haven't heard, here it is: Horseshoes originated in Springfield, Illinois, maybe in the late 1920's or early 30's. The chef at the Leland Hotel, gone now, developed the horseshoe as a signature dish for the many "horsemen" who visited. Springfield is the capital and state fairgrounds home, famous for Standardbred racing and horseshows.

    On a steakplate plate(the anvil), place two pieces of toast in a U/V shape, cover with meat (turkey, ham, hamburger)in a horseshoe shape, cover with cheese sauce, never cheez-whiz, but a slightly spicey sauce (butter,flour, pepper, cream or half & half,cayenne, shredded sharp cheddar, maybe a little beer or worcestershire). Pile on the nails, freshly fried real potatoes. A smaller sandwich is a Ponyshoe.

    The Hot Brown sandwich in Louisville is about the same. Developed at the old Brown Hotel and served all over Louisville. They are wonderful on a non-diet day! Ask anyone in the saddlehorse business.
    #12
    chs76
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2005/03/23 01:48:48 (permalink)
    mkrealtor is correct about the horseshose and theres onlyone cafe that uses leland old chesse sauce recepie.
    #13
    sugarlander
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2005/03/23 09:35:26 (permalink)
    I found this forum fascinating. My husband and I have lived in Central Illinois, for a combined total of over 35 years, and neither of us has ever heard of a horseshoe!
    #14
    kland01s
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2005/03/23 11:58:59 (permalink)
    The only time I have had a horseshoe sandwich was in Springfield at a restaurant near the capitol. It's something you wouldn't want to eat too often!
    #15
    dreamzpainter
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2005/03/23 12:04:06 (permalink)
    Sounds TASTY!! years and years ago I had a friend who's parents owned a Q shack, late one night we invented a barcheeburger. An arkansas version of a dagwood it consisted of a toasted bun topped with a hamburger patty, french fries, cheese, pulled pork, slaw and hot sauce (yes we WERE young and probably inebriated)
    #16
    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2007/08/19 19:54:00 (permalink)
    I felt this thread on Chowhound

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/110752

    had a lot of good info on this regional specialty, so I thought I'd link it in here.
    #17
    jeanskid62
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2007/08/29 02:37:25 (permalink)
    I grew up in Springfield, and now live on the west coast - I have to say I miss my horseshoes!!! Every time I go back home, I live on horseshoes/ponyshoes/breakfast shoes, and gain a good 10 lbs in the process. The BEST horseshoe is served at a restaurant in Dawson Illinois, near Riverton. Don't remember the name of the restaurant, but it is the only one in Dawson. The ribeye horseshoe is the best. Used to be Wayne's Redcoach Inn had the best, but they closed down a few years back...

    I've had: hamburger, ham, shrimp, chicken (broiled or fried), buffalo chicken, turkey, steak, breaded pork tenderloin, and the typical breakfast options. All are awesome!

    By the way, the nickname for a horseshoe is "heart attack on a plate". Aptly named, I might add...

    And it is strictly a central Illinois phenomenon, although I have some good friends out here who own a restaurant and I'm trying to convince them to give it a shot....
    #18
    Ron H
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2007/12/25 23:33:20 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by wudaben

    On the Chili topic...I believe the Ray's canned chili comes from the central Illinois area but not necessarily Springfield. I do know that there is an annual chili cookoff between Illinois and Texas as each claims to be the Chili Capital of the world. The major difference between the two I believe is that Illinois chili includes meet where the Texas counterpart does not. Springfield plays host to a large chili convention during the summer months. The best chili in Springfield is a place called Joe Rogers' Original Recipe Chili Parlor (formerly called The Den).


    When I was growing up, Ray's Chili had a building on South 13th Street, just off of Laurel. I don't know if it was a manufacturing plant or just a distribution center. It was a fairly large building, in the middle of what was then a residential area.

    Just a few blocks away, near 12th and South Grand was Den Chilli, home of the famous Firebrand chili. If you ate a bowl on the premises, they put your name on the wall. Yes, it was that hot. I ate there so often, though, that I gradually got to the point that Firebrand was my norm. I think I stated out with Medium, then Hot, then Extra Hot and, finally, Firebrand. I am probably the only person in the world to have eaten Den Chilli in Tokyo. While stationed there in the Army, my mother came for a visit and brought with her a quart, frozen and packed in dry ice!

    A few blocks from the Den, at 6th and Laurel, if I recall, was the Dew Chili Parlor. Locals were pretty much divided into Dew chili fans or Den Chilli fans. I was an equal-opportunity customer, but I have to admit now, 30 years later, I cannot recall much about Dew's chili, so it must not have been that good.

    BTW, Den Chilli is gone now, but it was re-opened under the name "Joe Rogers." Firebrand is now called "JR's Special." From what I understand, the Rogers family sold The Den and all rights back in the 70s or 80s. The new owners drove it into the ground after a few years and the Rogers family went back into business, but were unable to regain rights to the names "Den" or "Firebrand."

    The main characterstics of Den chilli are its lack of beans and its spicy oil, visibly floating on top, served with oyster crackers. I've never figured out if the spiciness comes from the meat sauce or the oil. Most locals order it with chopped raw onions and, maybe, a tamale on the side. (If you asked for it in the chili, you got less chili )
    #19
    Oneiron339
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    RE: Horseshoes, ponys 2007/12/27 19:20:42 (permalink)
    Darcy's Pint in S. Springfield has a great horseshoe and a varied menu. We had one this past fall on our Rte. 66 trip through the area.
    #20
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