March 18th: National Sloppy Joe Day

“Well yesterday’s meatloaf is today’s Sloppy Joes,” Adam Sandler crooned over two decades ago as he performed “Lunch Lady Land,” a song about the lunch lady (Chris Farley) and how the angry food revolted against her until Sloppy Joe (Kevin Nealon) saved the day. Saturday Night Live stars aren’t the only ones to recognize the good in a sloppy Joe. In fact, this American dish of ground beef, onions, and sweetened tomato sauce has its very own holiday.

National Sloppy Joe Day is celebrated each year on March 18th. In honor of the hearty celebration, Health & Life put together a few facts on the sandwich as well as a healthy alternative to the typical ground beef and Manwich combo.


  • It is unknown how exactly the sloppy Joe came to be. Some say it was first inspired by Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a historic bar located in Havana, Cuba, during the 1940s & ‘50s and came to be years later as a deli sandwich in New Jersey. However, according to research at the Carnegie Library, the sloppy Joe began in a Sioux City, Iowa, café as a “loose meat sandwich” in 1920 by a cook named Joe.
  • Sloppy Joes go by different titles: Toasted Deviled Hamburgers, Chopped Meat Sandwiches, Hamburg a la Creole, Beef Mironton, Minced Beef Spanish Style, slush burger, yum yums, barbecue, dynamite, and even sloppy Jane.
  • Sloppy Joes were mentioned in several movies in the 1930s, “Citizen Kane” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” although they weren’t widely popular until the 1960s.
  • In 1969, Hunt’s revolutionized the sloppy Joe when it introduced its Manwich sloppy Joe sauce.


Prep time:  5 mins

Cook time:  25 mins

Total time:  30 mins

Serves: 6

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red pepper, diced

1 pound extra lean ground turkey

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup (8 ounces) tomato sauce

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon Frank’s Hot Sauce or Tabasco

6 whole wheat hamburger buns

Nutrition Information

  • Serving size: 1 sloppy joe on whole wheat bun made with extra lean turkey
  • Calories: 223
  • Fat: 3.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 28 g
  • Sugar: 13.2 g
  • Fiber: 3.7 g
  • Protein: 21 g

Health & Life March 2016

By Sarah Turner

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