Hickory Joes

Like sloppy joes, but with hickory ketchup. Hickory ketchup? Well, sure.

In 1964, Hunts test-marketed two new flavors of ketchup that they launched either in very late 1964 or early 1965 (depending on which market you lived in). I’ll let the cast of My Three Sons tell you about them.

Hmmm. A few thoughts. First, “I’d rather have eggs than a hamburger,” said no kid, ever. Second, I’m not entirely sure what he meant by barbecued eggs, because there are lots of recipes called barbecued eggs.

For example, there’s scrambled eggs with barbecue sauce, as suggested in this advertisement from the November 25, 1952 edition of the Tucson Daily Citizen (advertising Gebhardt’s Barbecue Sauce, from the original brand of chili powder, as we discussed in the post for chili powder from Martinez, California):

Barbecued Eggs

This one is so simple, that once you try it, you’ll do it again… often! To scrambled eggs, almost done, add Gebhardt’s Barbecue Sauce generously. Stir until eggs are set and sauce is hot. Here’s a delightfully different breakfast treat with all the oldtime flavor of bordertown cooking that starts your day with a different outlook. Original… easy… inexpensive.

And this one, from the March 16, 1953 edition of the Carroll (Iowa) Daily Times Herald:

Barbecued Eggs
Try barbecue sauce over shirred eggs for supper or Sunday brunch.

Then there’s this version (that speaks to me a great deal more) from the July 16, 1956 edition of The Lima (Ohio) News (if you’re wondering, the theme of the paper’s weekly cooking contest that week was “barbecue cooking”):

Second Prize ($3.00)

Mrs. Wilmer Gratz, Box 372, Pandora, Ohio

Barbecued Eggs

1/4 c. butter
1 large pepper, diced
1/4 c. chopped celery
1 large, sweet onion, diced
1 medium can tomatoes
1 can mushrooms
Dash each of garlic powder, chili powder
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. sugar
6 or 8 eggs

heat a large skillet about a foot from coals. Melt butter. Fry pepper, celery and onion until brown and tender. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic powder, chili powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook slowly and stir often. Cook about 1 hour uncovered until sauce gets rich and thick. Carefully break eggs into sauce and baste them as they poach. Serve with hard rolls or pork sausages.

(Click to expand more information about the author of this recipe.)

Mrs. Wilmer Gratz’s name was Audrey, born Audrey L. Fruchey, and her husband was a jerk. No, really! A soda jerk, according to the 1940 census. Audrey was a telephone operator and the pair had two children at the time.

Before the marriage, Wilmer worked in a cannery. They lived in Ohio until retiring to Florida in the 1960s.

The pair married in 1927 and only parted in death; Wilmer passed in 1982 and Audrey in 1990. They’re buried in Putnam County, Ohio, next to each other. (The image to the right is from the August 21, 1977 edition of The Lima (Ohio) News, announcing their then-imminent 50th wedding anniversary.)

Audrey frequently entered the contests for recipes and craft ideas in The Lima News. She won another second prize (this time, of $5 cash) in the “snack treats for company” contest. From the January 7, 1963 edition:

Second Prize:
Chicken Livers in Bacon. Boil chicken livers in salted water until tender. Mash and set aside. Saute chopped onion n butter until golden brown. Add to mashed liver. Add enough mayonnaise to hold liver mixture together. Form into small balls. Wrap partially cooked strip of bacon around each ball and fasten with toothpick. Put canap├ęs on cookie sheet and place under broiler until bacon is brown and crisp. Serve hot with assorted crackers and relishes.

Variation: Spread liver mixture on soda crackers, sprinkle with crumbled crisp bacon and serve. Mrs. Wilmer Gratz, box 55, Pandora, Ohio.

But back to Hickory Joes. What would you serve with a Hickory Joe? Well, here’s what the Blue Island Junior High cafeteria served with theirs, according to the October 6, 1966 edition of The (Blue Island, Illinois) Sun-Standard:

What is better than a favorite food for lunch?

Favorite foods every day for a week, of course, and that is exactly what is going to happen to Blue Island Junior High school students who buy lunch in the school cafeteria next week.

The special menu is planned to celebrate National Hot School Lunch Week Oct. 9 through 15, according to Mrs. Lenore Harding, manager of the junior high school cafeteria.

An average of 310 children buy their lunch every day at the school cafeteria, according to Mrs. Harding, who has worked in the District 130 cafeteria for 13 years, ever since the junior high cafeteria was built.

What are the junior high school food favorites? Here they are as they appear in next week’s menu:

Monday: Grape juice; Hickory Joes, Potato Chips, Cole Slaw, Peanut Butter Cookies, Milk.

Tuesday: Hot Dog Soup, Toasted Cheese sandwich (Gold Brick), Carrot Sticks, Half a Peach, Milk.

Wednesday: Tomato juice, Oven Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Buttered Peas, Hot Roll and Butter, Fruit Cup, Milk.

Thursday: Orange Juice, Pizza Rounds, Potato Chips, Pickled Beets, Apple Sauce, Milk.

Friday: Pineapple Juice, Fish Boats, Potato Gems, Green Beans, Prune Cake, Milk.

But as for hickory ketchup, market researchers made it possible. From the January 21, 1965 edition of The Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle:

Hickory and Pizza Flavor Catsups were created after years of research and test marketing to give a really new taste to this popular condiment.

These new catsup were test marketed extensively in four major cities — Phoenix, Denver, Columbus, and Birmingham. Sixty-two per cent of the homemakers who taste-tested them, purchased the new catsups again and again. In fact, repeat of hickory and pizza catsup increased total catsup consumption 21 percent, the producer reports.

These catsups give a new taste to foods where catsup usually is used–on hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, and french fries. They not only star as pour-ons at the table, but have an important role as a cooking ingredient when hickory-tomato or pizza-tomato flavor is desired.

Hickory catsup supplies smoky flavor and aroma to sweet and sour ribs. Pizza catsup makes a quick sauce for an Italian-style omelet.

To me, it’s tough to pinpoint exactly whom this product was intended to serve. Hickory barbecue sauces were on shelves at least from the 1940s onward, and liquid smoke for decades before that. Either way, it disappeared from advertising sometime around 1983.

Fortunately, thanks to the aforementioned liquid smoke, it’s something you can re-create.

From a box sold in Nampa, Idaho.

Hamburgers — Hickory Joes

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup hickory ketchup
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Toasted hamburger buns.

Cook ground beef, onion, and green pepper in a skillet until meat is lightly browned. Pour off excess fat.

Add ketchup, water, mustard, salt, and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.

Serve on toasted buns.

Makes 4 servings.

Yesterdish suggestion: To make hickory ketchup, combine 1/2 cup standard ketchup with 1.5 tsp. liquid hickory smoke.

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