Are Sloppy Joes Named After A Real Person?

Sloppy Joes are a true crowd-pleaser. Parents love the messy sandwich just as much as their younger ones, and not just for the bold sentimental flavors. Even if the sandwiches are made from scratch, the recipe takes only about 20 minutes to whip together, according to The Chunky Chef. And, if a pre-made Sloppy Joe seasoning packet or a can of Manwich is on your shortlist of ingredients, then that cooking time can likely be cut right in half. The sandwich has been winning the hearts of Americans for eons, but The Takeout reveals that one theory behind the story of Sloppy Joes actually traces back to Havana, Cuba.

As the tale goes, it was a humble entrepreneur with an admiration for tasty cocktails that is responsible for the infamous Sloppy Joe sandwich and its namesake. Sometime around 1918, José Abeal Otero opened what was ultimately called Sloppy Joe's Bar in Havana, and it became quite the popular local watering hole. As the crowds grew, so did the alcohol intake and Otero wanted to offer some bites to help curb any rowdiness. The sandwich coined its name due to its messy attributes and matching surroundings, according to

We have Ernest Hemingway to thank for the sandwich coming to the U.S.

It's said that José Abeal Otero was inspired by the magnetism of Cuba's flavors when tossing together a quick sandwich of stewed ground beef, not unlike the Cuban dish ropa vieja (per The Takeout). The delectable meal soon became a crowd favorite, sharing a name with the bar. And, in a short amount of time, Sloppy Joe's Bar became a hot spot for not only locals but reputable stars as well (via, with the space transforming into a vibrant venue for good drinks, good eats, and good times. 

One of the regulars happened to be none other than Ernest Hemingway — and it's said, thanks to him, that the sandwich was able to make its way to the States. Hemingway is known for two things — his knack for the written word and love of alcohol (via Business Insider) — and once prohibition was repealed, Hemingway convinced his friend Joe Russell to turn his former Key West, Florida speakeasy called the Silver Slipper into a legitimate bar — renaming it Sloppy Joe's and ultimately copping the Cuban business model as his own, signature sandwich and all, says The Takeout. It still exists today, as is the sandwich (which they hail as the "original"), while the Havana spot closed in 1959 but re-established itself in 2013.

Another theory, as noted by The Takeout, comes from middle America. As families were penny-pinching in the 1920s, ideas came to light to stretch dollars as far as possible. As such, loose meat sandwiches were all the rage, in Iowa in particular. Chicago Tribune asserts that a chef named Joe in Sioux City was the first to combine ground beef with tomato flavors, creating the Sloppy Joe sandwich we know and love today. But, regardless of how the sandwich came to fruition, everyone can agree we are all certainly grateful.