What Makes The New Jersey Sloppy Joe Different From The Standard?

If you grew up in America, there is no doubt you're familiar with the Sloppy Joe sandwich. A staple in school lunch rooms, college dorms, and busy parent's kitchens, the Sloppy Joe is easy to make (particularly if you use the canned sauce), cheap, and makes for a filling meal. Even pickier kids don't seem to mind the loose ground beef blanketed with tomato-based sauce served on a soft bun. Pickles and cheese are optional but highly recommended. The whole concoction is warm, savory, and, yup, messy, and it's about as American as apple pie.

Needless to say, no matter where you go, if you see Sloppy Joes on a menu, you know exactly what you're getting, so it's a pretty reliable, if not predictable, meal choice — that is, unless you're in New Jersey. If you order a Sloppy Joe in the Garden State you will be presented with something so different from what you're used to, you'll swear a mistake has been made. And when your server tells you they brought you exactly what you ordered, you'll question everything you know about Sloppy Joes. Can two sandwiches with the same name really be so different? Quite simply, yes. But rest assured, it's still pretty sloppy.

A messy deli sandwich

New Jersey Sloppy Joe sandwiches don't come on a bun, they come on sliced bread and are often served double-decker style, with a third piece of bread in the middle, reminiscent of a club sandwich. They are served cold with two types of cold cuts: you can choose from everything from the standards like roast beef and turkey, to the unusual like beef tongue, to the salads like egg and tuna salad. From there, slices of Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing are added. Rather than saucy ground beef dropping out the back of your bun, expect dressing and slaw to come tumbling out, soaking your fingers and pooling on your plate (which would be a pretty good topping for your fries, just saying).

The way the sandwich is cut also makes the sandwich a bit unusual. Two renowned New Jersey delis famous for their Sloppy Joes take different approaches to cutting and serving their creations (via NJ.com). At Town Hall Deli in South Orange, your sandwich will come partially crust-free and cut into quarters. At nearby Millburn Deli, each Sloppy Joe is cut diagonally into thirds with the crusts fully intact. With the variety of cold cuts available to put on your sandwich, you might never eat the same one twice, and there is little doubt you'll ever leave lunch hungry when you order one of these unique sandwiches.