Horseshoe sandwich

The horseshoe is an open-faced sandwich originating in Springfield, Illinois, United States.[1][2][3] It consists of thick-sliced toasted bread (often Texas toast), a hamburger patty or other choice of meat, French fries, and cheese sauce.

Place of originUnited States
Region or stateSpringfield, Illinois
Associated cuisineUnited States
Main ingredientsToasted bread, hamburger patty, French fries, cheese sauce
VariationsBreakfast horseshoe, pony shoe

While hamburger has become the most common meat on a horseshoe, the original meat was ham.[4] The "horseshoe" name has been variously attributed to the horseshoe-like shape of a slice of bone-in ham, or to the horseshoe-like arrangement of potato wedges around the ham.[5]

It is not uncommon to substitute other meat for the hamburger, such as chicken or ham, or use more than one type of meat. The fries may also be substituted with tater tots, waffle fries, or other forms of fried potatoes.

Though cheese sauces vary by chef, it is generally derived from Welsh rarebit. Common ingredients include eggs, stale beer, butter, sharp cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, flour, dry mustard, paprika, salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper.[1]

A smaller portion, with one slice of bread and one serving of meat, is called a pony shoe.[1]

A breakfast horseshoe is also available. The hamburger and french fries are replaced with sausage or bacon, eggs, and hash browns. The cheese sauce can also be substituted with milk gravy.[6]

Ross' Restaurant in Bettendorf, Iowa is known for a similar dish called the Magic Mountain. Instead of a hamburger patty, the sandwich contains steamed loose-meat. It has been enjoyed by politicians and celebrities including Barack Obama and Bette Midler.[7]

The horseshoe was invented at the Leland Hotel in Springfield, but its inventorship has been the subject of controversy.[8] The sandwich was created in 1928 by Leland Hotel chef Joe Schweska.[9] His kitchen assistants included Tony Wables and Steve Tomko, who has also sometimes been credited as the inventor of the horseshoe and who served the horseshoe in his own restaurants later on.[9] The Leland, located on the corner of Sixth and Capitol (now an office building), was one of Springfield's leading hotels. It was built in 1867 and has housed hundreds of prominent Americans. The structure is five stories high and contained 235 rooms.[10] Chef Tomko also took his horseshoe recipe to the Red Coach Inn after leaving the Leland Hotel.

In the 2015 Thomas' Breakfast Battle, hosted by Thomas' Breads, Mike Murphy won a $25,000 prize for his breakfast horseshoe. The contest featured chefs from throughout the country combining local flavor with Thomas' English muffins. Murphy's winning horseshoe included eggs, bacon, cheese sauce, sausage gravy and hash browns on top of the English muffin. He prepared the dish on an episode of Fox & Friends to promote the contest.[11]

See also


  1. Henderson, Pam; Mathew, Jan (2006). You Know You're in Illinois When... p. 43. ISBN 9780762739172.
  2. Selvam, Ashok (June 13, 2017). "The Horseshoe: Where to Find the Illinois Capital's Favorite Sandwich". Eater Chicago. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  3. Glatz, Julianne (February 2, 2012). "What Happened to Horseshoes?". Illinois Times. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  4. Harmon & Leone 2019, p. 17.
  5. Harmon & Leone 2019, pp. 17–18.
  6. Morris, Natalie (October 2, 2015). "Charlie Parker's Breakfast Horseshoe Still Alive in National Food Competition". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  7. Stapleton, Susan (November 25, 2015). "Meet the Most Iconic Dish in the Quad Cities – the Magic Mountain". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  8. Harmon & Leone 2019, p. 13.
  9. Harmon & Leone 2019, p. 15.
  10. Stradley, Linda (21 May 2015). "Horseshoe Sandwich Recipe, Whats Cooking America". Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  11. Dettro, Chris. "Charlie Parker's owner wins $25,000 breakfast recipe contest". Retrieved 21 April 2018.

Works cited

  • Harmon, Carolyn; Leone, Tony (2019). Springfield's Celebrated Horseshoe Sandwich. The History Press. ISBN 9781467139885.

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