Loosemeat...?

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UncleVic
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2005/03/22 01:18:28 (permalink)

Loosemeat...?

After reading the "Restaurant of the day" featuring Miles Taverns burger, I've been seriously craving one. ( http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overview.aspx?RefID=1203 )
Something like this has to be seriously regional since I've never seen anything like this. Closest we come around here is a Sloppy Joe.. Is that Miles burger what alot of you refer to as loosemeat? Also, how far North (or East) do these style burgers come? Thanks!
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    Michael Stern
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 02:34:29 (permalink)
    From a story we wrote a while back:

    A loosemeats is a sloppy Joe without slop, ground beef that is cooked loose – unpattied – and seasoned and drained but sauceless. Compared to a hamburger it does have a scattered character, and yet the pebbly beef holds together nearly as well as sticky rice when gathered up with an ice cream scoop and positioned on the bottom half of a burger bun. It is customarily dressed with pickle, mustard, and a slice of cheese – a remix of the cheeseburger with fragmented harmony. Like grits, it is a food spoken of with singular/plural ambivalence. Usually one sandwich is a loosemeats; a batch in the kitchen or a bowlful without the bun are loosemeats.

    Loosemeats goes by many aliases: tavern, Big T, Charlie Boy, Tastee. Several years ago, when Roseanne Arnold opened her Big Food Diner over in Eldon out Ottumwa way, journalists unfamiliar with Iowa cuisine made a fuss over the fact that her menu did list loosemeats, a name that to outsiders sounds vaguely taboo. According to Marcia Poole, food writer at the Sioux City Journal, folks in Siouxland were righteously angry about Roseanne calling it that. “The other side of Des Moines, it should be called a Maid-Rite,” Marcia told us, referring to the eponymous name for the similar sandwich and the chain of restaurants that serves it, mostly between Des Moines and Dubuque. “Loosemeats are ours alone.”

    Sticklers for historical veracity actually prefer the term tavern because that it what it was called when David Heglin first served it in 1924 at a 25-seat Sioux City restaurant he ran called Ye Old Tavern. (Two years later the first Maid-Rite eatery opened in Muscatine, Iowa, at the eastern end of the state, serving the nearly identical sandwich, called a Maid-Rite.) It was a time when many Americans worried about the ill effects of frying meat. Steaming was a popular alternative; so Heglin’s steamed beef sandwiches were a sort of health food. In 1934 Abe Kaled bought Ye Old Tavern, changed its name to Ye Olde Tavern and also tinkered with the formula for ground beef on a bun. Kaled and his wife Bertha sold “taverns” for a dime apiece. (Loosemeats now sell for $1.30 to $1.50 in most restaurants.) Their restaurant inspired imitations for miles around, and by the time Ye Olde Tavern closed in 1971, Sioux Cityans were smitten with the sandwich. Like barbecue in the ranchland east of Santa Barbara or Brunswick stew in southern Virginia, loosemeats had become the favorite thing to serve at fund-raising suppers; they continue to be a staple on school lunch menus; and they are served by virtually every drive-in restaurant and bar throughout the counties of Sioux, Plymouth, Cherokee, and Woodbury.
    #2
    UncleVic
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 09:19:48 (permalink)
    Thank You for the most informative response!
    #3
    1bbqboy
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 10:12:01 (permalink)
    Vic, we had loose hamburgs as far south and west as KC. Our local chain was called NuWay
    and I loved going there. My memory says they all closed in the 60's, as I remember none being built in the expoding burbs. The one we always ate at was at Rainbow Blvd. and Southwest Blvd., next to Wiglesworth Used Trucks.
    There used to be a Maid Rite in Phoenix, (Mesa), where folks could get a taste of Iowa in Az. If you look at their map for expansion on their website, Michigan is included, .
    http://www.maid-rite.com/franchiseopps/locations.shtml
    #4
    cindyloo
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 10:21:25 (permalink)
    Though it is known as an "Iowa thing", I've never eaten one. And I've lived all my 37 years in IA. Maybe they're more prevalent in Western Iowa. But I think I can safely say, at home, people in Iowa are still using their grills or pan-frying their burgers. We do have a Maid Rite here locally, but I've never been inside. I have no idea who goes there.

    Cindy
    #5
    kland01s
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 13:50:34 (permalink)
    I went to college in northeast Iowa and we had Maid Rites which are loose meat sandwiches, they were in the Chicago area for awhile but the only one I know of now outside of Iowa is in Peoria, Il.
    #6
    UncleVic
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 14:29:54 (permalink)
    Thanks Bill... I see they had a target of Michigan in 2004, but havent seen any on this side of the state (yet)... Maybe someone on the east side of the state may have seen them (Detroit area?).. I couldnt find a store locator on their site..
    #7
    carlton pierre
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 19:49:15 (permalink)
    Just to satisfy my own mind I will do some research into the Maid-Rite in Greenville, OH. I know it's been in business at least 65 years.
    #8
    ctfrasier
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 21:17:02 (permalink)
    Roseanne also owned a loosemeat diner in the latter years of her sitcom, which my old roommate swears is on tv 24/7 in the Nashville area.
    #9
    Hastyman
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/22 23:18:42 (permalink)
    As a native western Iowan, let me weigh in on the geolinguistics of the sandwich in question:

    --"Loosemeat/loosemeats" is an extremely regional term only used within about ten miles of the Missouri River. It is absolutely true that Roseanne had no business using the term at Rosie & Tom's Big Food Diner; the sense of outrage is mitigated, however, by the fact that it's likely no one in the Ottumwa area had any idea what they were talking about. I grew up 100 miles from Sioux City, and I'd never heard the term "loosemeats" until I checked Real American Food out from the library. (We always went for Mongolian barbecue whenever we were in Sioux City.)

    --"Tavern" is the preferred term in northwestern Iowa; however, a quick glance at the Immaculate Conception Parish cookbook from Cherokee, IA (ca. 1960) reveals that nearly every recipe for "taverns" includes ketchup and usually mustard. Another characteristic of the "tavern" recipes is that the meat is not fried, as in sloppy Joes, and not steamed, as in MaidRites or (usually) loosemeats; rather, the meat is boiled in the sauce. Generally speaking, a tavern is not quite the same as a loosemeats, but if anybody from Sioux City wishes to disagree, you're the experts.

    --In central Iowa, "MaidRite" is the generic term for any sloppy Joe-like sandwiches, whether they're actually MaidRites or not. If you make a can of Manwich at home, you'd probably still call it "MaidRite."

    --In eastern Iowa, however, most people seem to respect that a sloppy Joe is not a MaidRite, and they use the term "sloppy Joe" for anything made at home.

    --In parts of north-central Iowa, the sandwich is question is frequently called "beefburger" and has more tomato flavor than a MaidRite or a loosemeats, but less than a sloppy Joe. While it's not my favorite variant for a sandwich, it is the best potato-chip dip ever.

    --In the same region, the sandwich is also known as a "barbecue," which is also the term used in western Minnesota. The fact that people in the upper Midwest have historically called a sloppy Joe "barbecue" is why, in my opinion, you need to get off Famous Dave's back. You have to crawl before you can walk.

    --In parts of southwestern Iowa and adjacent parts of southeast Nebraska, the term "Tastee" is used, but it usually refers to a slightly saucy, tomato-less sandwich. The meat is boiled, and recipes for this sandwich invariably include a crumbed-up hamburger bun as a thickener.

    --A variant of the basic "tavern" recipe, made with tomato sauce rather than ketchup, and usually including a minuscule amount of chili powder, is popular as a hot-dog sauce. It's usually called "Coney Island sauce" (as it is many other places), but the resulting sandwich is never called a "coney;" it's always a "Coney Island." It's closest in spirit to Detroit coney dogs, but Iowa Coney Islands are sweeter and less spicy.

    I'm no expert, but it's pretty obvious that, whatever this sandwich is supposed to be called, Sioux City, IA is its nexus, while western Iowa is where its DNA comes from. You could say that there's at least five different names for the sandwich; you could also say that there are at least five distinct sandwiches which cohere around the theme of seasoned crumbled hamburger on a bun. Obviously, what is needed is more research in order to find out the true history of this sandwich. If it can be called by five or more different names in such a sparsely-populated area, this is one for the culinary anthropologists.
    #10
    1bbqboy
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 10:21:51 (permalink)
    Wow, Hastyman, that was cool. Ours in KC were dry(no tomato sauce base) but tasted of black pepper, but we always called them NuWays, as stated. Now I'll have to find out who came down from Iowa to start that chain.
    #11
    SouthHillbilly
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 10:37:36 (permalink)
    Hastyman, Excellent lesson in Iowan communal culture!

    In upstate NY they sometimes also call a sloppy joe a "barbeque."
    #12
    tiki
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 10:57:32 (permalink)
    Hastyman---thanks---javing never expeianced any of the loosemeats out there other then classic school lunch style sloppy joes-that really clears up alot of confusion thats been hanging around in my head for a while.Aint ethnoculinariology interesting!!!
    #13
    brookquarry
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 10:57:54 (permalink)
    In Southeastern Pa "beef barbeque" at most diners means a sloppy joe.
    #14
    dreamzpainter
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 11:36:43 (permalink)
    See the thread on LUBI'S in the sandwich section for a northeast florida take on "loosemeat". Ive never had the opportunity to have the northern variaty and I may be a lil bias but these sandwichs are awesome..
    #15
    Bill B.
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 12:33:18 (permalink)
    When I was in public school in Independence, Mo., during the 1960s and '70s, the cafeteria's served "Made-Rite" or "Maid-Rite" sandwichs a couple times a month. Can't remember how they spelled it, but that was my first experience with the sandwich.

    The Mugs Up drive-in in Lexington, Mo., always had a Maid-Rite on the menu. A couple of MRs and a footlong chilidog made for a nice late-night snack while cruising the backroads as an older teen.

    Here in Columbia, the local Mugs Up still serves a pretty good Maid-Rite. I'm afraid that's where I'll have to go for lunch...
    #16
    the Big Ferret
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 12:51:48 (permalink)
    Weird: I'm actually wearing a Taylor's Maid-Rite shirt as I read this. My wife is from Iowa and she introduced me to them when we were visiting her family. I liked them so much she bought me a shirt this past Christmas.
    #17
    tiki
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 13:35:04 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by the Big Ferret

    Weird: I'm actually wearing a Taylor's Maid-Rite shirt as I read this. My wife is from Iowa and she introduced me to them when we were visiting her family. I liked them so much she bought me a shirt this past Christmas.


    Well--thats convinced me!!--anytime someone named "The Big Ferret" likes a sandwich enough to wear the tee shirt---then i HAVE to eat one of these!--have to check for the Taylors locations now!
    #18
    lleechef
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 16:38:51 (permalink)
    My first encounter with this sandwich was in Homer, Nebraska. While visiting my in-laws who live in Westfield, Iowa (15 miles from Sioux City) the decision was made to visit the O'Connor mansion (circa 1870) which was all decorated for Christmas. We did and after the mansion tour we went to a "town hall" in Homer which was serving lunch. I was urged to get the "Tavern" which I didn't have a clue what it was but in good Roadfood fashion, I said, "Sure!" It was delicious. Think we might have to make some soon!
    #19
    nvb
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 17:48:18 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by brookquarry

    In Southeastern Pa "beef barbeque" at most diners means a sloppy joe.


    Ok, this splains why I get the occasional person with an accent asking for a sloppy joe.
    #20
    mcunnin777
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/23 20:00:06 (permalink)
    I just discovered a new Maid Rite location last week. It is right off I-75 in Piquia, OH at exit #82. It is located in a Marathon Station almost under the expressway.
    #21
    carlton pierre
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/25 13:54:21 (permalink)
    Hey 777, you got my attention with that post. Any other details? Is it a stand alone kind of place, or did it appear to be part of the Iowa chain?
    #22
    tiki
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/25 18:39:57 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by lleechef

    My first encounter with this sandwich was in Homer, Nebraska. While visiting my in-laws who live in Westfield, Iowa (15 miles from Sioux City) the decision was made to visit the O'Connor mansion (circa 1870) which was all decorated for Christmas. We did and after the mansion tour we went to a "town hall" in Homer which was serving lunch. I was urged to get the "Tavern" which I didn't have a clue what it was but in good Roadfood fashion, I said, "Sure!" It was delicious. Think we might have to make some soon!


    Lleechef----or anyone else for that matter---got a recipe and assembly instructions for these---ie---how do i cook it?---what goes on em?---what about the bun?
    #23
    lleechef
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/25 19:36:10 (permalink)
    Tiki,

    When I asked the gals in Homer, Nebraska how they made it, the recipe was very vague. But here it is, scaled down:

    2 C water
    3/4 C ketchup
    2 T chili powder
    1 onion, finely diced
    2 lb. ground beef
    2 T mustard
    salt and pepper to taste

    Combine the water, ketchup, chili powder and onion and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the ground beef and mustard, salt and pepper and cook until beef is crumbly and cooked.

    This is served on a really SOFT hamburger bun with dill pickle chips out of the jar and slices of American cheese on the "Tavern". It's a cross between a "loosemeat" which has no sauce and a "sloppy Joe" which is loaded with sauce.
    salt and pepper to taste
    #24
    tiki
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/26 01:02:16 (permalink)
    Great--thanks----got it!
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    JeffreyTodd
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/27 20:43:34 (permalink)
    Here in Wichita, we've had our Nu-Ways for 75 years apparently. Here's confirmation from:
    http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/entertainment/11101401.htm

    quote:

    It's a new Nu-Way

    For the first time in more than a decade, there's a new Nu-Way Sandwich Shop in Wichita. Neal Stong, who owns the five existing Nu-Ways, opened his sixth this week at 6524 E. 37th St. North. The restaurant with the famous loose-meat sandwiches has all of the other popular menu items, like onion rings, chili and root beer floats. Stong plans a grand opening with special promotions on March 29. Nu-Way's hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The restaurant's original store at 1416 W. Douglas will celebrate its 75th anniversary on July 4.


    For years I assumed these wonderful sandwiches were unique to Wichita, until I heard Roseanne mention them.

    Everyone I know has tried to recreate them at home, but they're never quite the same. I believe the ingredients are simply boiled ground beef, diced onions, mustard and pickle (and you can add cheese). And I've come pretty close to getting just the right flavor by adding a bit of garlic salt to the meat. I first tried this after noticing cases of garlic salt behind the counter during one visit to the restaurant, though it could also have had something to do with their garlic salad
    #26
    malheureux
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/27 22:03:13 (permalink)
    I am from Woonsocket, RI where we have a sandwich called a "dynamite" that is typically sold with beer at bachelor parties, fund-raisers, etc. When I made a batch for a cookout here in Austin TX, one expatriate from Atlantic IA said, "Hey, this is like a Made-Rite!" After reading the thread of this forum, I can see the resemblence. Dynamites, however, are made with bell peppers, onions, celery, ground beef, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, all cooked together for several hours and served on a grinder/hoagie/hero/submarine sandwich roll. Extra red pepper flakes and hot sauce are always a good addition!
    #27
    UncleVic
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/27 22:42:04 (permalink)
    That Dynamite does sound pretty tasty!
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    lamertz
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/27 22:45:27 (permalink)
    We had a version of LooseMeat sandwich where I grew up in central Indiana. Our locally owned A and W had a loosemeat sandwich called the HurryBurger. This was loosemeat ---ground beef,seasoned,chopped,loosely and piled on a mini rye bun usually with cheese,chopped onion,pickle and mustard. A really wonderful sandwich. You sort of smushed it down when you got it out of its waxed paper wrapper. That way the loose meat didn't fall out and there is the always satisfying smushing down of the soft bread(bun). Sadly, this A&W has changed hand s and the mini rye bun is gone and the loosemeat is diferent and the whole thing is wrong. Next time I'm in Iowa I'm looking for the loosemeat place.
    #29
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: Loosemeat...? 2005/03/27 23:44:59 (permalink)
    Dearfolk,
    Mercy! I had a discussion about this very topic one night over pints at the brewpub here. An Iowa expat told me of places that serve the best "tavern," the best "loosemeats," and a mean "sloppy Joe." He spoke as if these were separate stylings of the same idea, which I now know they are.
    Maybe this summer I will get out thataway and run the gamut of the styles. Even though I've largely been lurking lately, I'll report back in fine fettle.
    My favorite Maid-Rite(R) is Dick Ring's in Dubuque, Iowa... think it's on Iowa Street, about the 1000 block. Magnificent! I wish I had one of those right now, and a 5-way Cincinnati chili to wash it down with! Guess I'll have to settle for whatever The Grill chooses to dish up when I leave here....
    Hungrily, Ort. Carlton in Lovely, Rainy Athens, Georgia.
    #30
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