–by Jennifer Ruple
PUBLICATION DATE: 03.07.18
Local veteran and entrepreneur expands sloppy joe business
In celebration of National Sloppy Joe Day on March 18, this week’s column pays homage to the true American classic. Consisting of a mixture of ground beef and a sweet and tangy tomato sauce, the iconic sandwich has been adored by children and adults of all ages since it was crafted decades ago. Legend has it that the first sloppy joe was created in the 1930s when a cook named Joe at Floyd Angell’s Café in Sioux City, Iowa added tomato sauce to his “loose meat” sandwiches. There are many versions out there of how the first sloppy joe came to be, so we can’t be sure which one is completely true. However, one thing we do know is that local sloppy joe expert, veteran and University of Toledo graduate, Donald Hill, is keeping the beloved sandwich tradition alive with his Brickyard Brand Sloppy Joe Sauces.
Hill founded his company, Traditions Sauces, LLC, in 2012 when he returned home from serving four years in the U.S. Navy in Marine combat in Afghanistan as a corpsman (combat medic). While there, he was given an MRE (Meal Ready-to-Eat) that contained a sloppy joe. It was so bad that it made Hill long for the sloppy joes he enjoyed when he was young.
Once he was home, Hill and his mom, Jackie, pulled out a sloppy joe recipe that was his grandmother JoAnn’s. It was so good, they began thinking about producing it for sale. When they decided to go for it, Hill, Jackie and his dad, Don Sr., went to the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen in Bowling Green for assistance. “They gave us a checklist of the things we needed to work on,” said Hill. “It took about a year to get everything together, like the name and the labeling and packaging.”
Hill reminisced, “The first time we were in the kitchen we made 20 cases, and we thought what the heck are we going to do with all this sloppy joe sauce?”
The Hills took their product on the road with displays and samples at food shows and farmers markets. “We knew we were doing well when 80-85 percent of those who tried it, bought it. It just grew from there,” stated Hill. Today, during peak selling season, April through October, the Hills make about 100 cases of sauce each week. “We move quite a bit during that season with all of the spring parties, graduations and farmers markets,” he added.
Traditions Sauces is on the move. In 2016, the company launched a second flavor of sloppy joe sauce called Sweet Heat, and that’s only the beginning. “We just bought a food truck. We’re making the final touches, and we’ll be ready to launch it this spring,” said Hill. “We’ve secured spots at downtown Toledo’s food truck event, Ernest Brew Works on Detroit Avenue, and at Food Truck Fridays in Maumee. We’re going to serve our staple sloppy joe sandwiches in the Original flavor and the Sweet Heat. We are also perfecting the ingredients for a signature sandwich called the Bricklayer, which will be something like a half pound of meat and your choice of sauce, all topped with homemade coleslaw and french fries. It will be something that’s just kind of us.”
Sandwiches will come with chips and a pickle, and diners can add coleslaw or potato salad, which Hill says are “hands down” the ultimate side dishes to serve with sloppy joes. “The creaminess of the potato salad and coleslaw complements the meat and the red sauce so well. We will also offer our version of the walking taco with sloppy joe meat poured over Doritos and topped with nacho cheese, lettuce, and sour cream.”
“With the food truck, it gives us the capability to cater weddings and other events.
We’re also working on something special to offer to kids,” Hill explained.
The directions for preparing Hill’s sloppy joe sandwich are listed on the jar:
brown two pounds of lean ground beef, drain, add sauce, stir and simmer on low for five minutes. Heap onto a bun and enjoy.
“It’s just an easy-to-prepare meal with family,” said Hill. “I buy everything from northwest Ohio and support my veterans. You can’t get more American than that.”
Visit traditionssauces.com for a list of locations to purchase Brickyard sauces. Once you’ve tasted Hill’s classic sandwich, try these alternative recipes:
Brickyard Thin Crust Pizza
1 pizza dough either store made or homemade
½ jar Brickyard Sloppy Joe Sauce, Original flavor
1 pound of cooked ground beef
1 small onion, diced (optional)
1 cup cooked bacon, chopped
4-ounce can of green chiles
Sliced Roma tomatoes with a light coat of olive oil (This keeps the tomatoes from drying out.)
Mozzarella, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, shredded
1 red onion, chopped (optional)
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Spread sauce over the pizza crust. Add ground beef, then cheeses. Sprinkle the bacon over the cheese. Add sliced tomatoes, red onions and green chiles.
Bake on 375 or 400 F for about 15 to 20 minutes on a cookie sheet or a pizza stone. Check after the 15 minutes. You do not want to overcook this masterpiece! After the pizza is done baking, immediately sprinkle lightly with cilantro and let pizza rest for about 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
(Recipe by Tony Rodriguez, owner of Pepperoni Tony’s)
Brickyard Meatball Hoagie
1 jar Brickyard Brand Sloppy Joe Sauce, Sweet Heat flavor
16, 1-ounce precooked, plain frozen meatballs, such as Gordon’s brand
1 cup pepper jack cheese shredded
4 hoagie rolls, split
In a large saucepan or crock pot, heat sauce and meatballs.
Spread butter on insides of the rolls and toast on a griddle or grill.
On each roll, place 4 meatballs, drizzle with extra sauce and top with ¼ cup of cheese.(Recipe by Donald Hill, owner Traditions Sauces, LLC)