Tom’s Mom’s Sloppy Joes – A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on Jan 8 2014 - 4:01am by RetroRuth

So, one of the greatest things about going home to your folk’s house for the holidays is that you don’t have to cook. The second greatest thing is when the meals that your folks cook are vintage! Not only did I get a post out of this meal, but I didn’t have to MAKE it or CLEAN UP AFTER!

Have I mentioned that I love Tom’s mom a lot? Well, I do.


These are sloppy joes that have, as the secret ingredient, a can of condensed chicken gumbo soup!


This is  from the same cookbook (different edition) that the much-loved layered meatloaf is from.



I was really interested to see how these turned out, because sloppy joes at our house growing up never had a recipe. My mom would just throw in ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, vinegar and brown sugar until it “tasted right” and then we would eat. Not that there is anything wrong with that way, since that is the way I make sloppy joes now and Tom has never complained once. Unlike that meatloaf thing.


“Do I even need to ask if these are good? You are wolfing that thing down.”


“Nope, they are great.”

The Verdict: Good

From The Tasting Notes:

These sandwiches are interesting, a little on the bland side compared to the sloppy joes I grew up with, but they still tasted like a sloppy joe even though they were mostly soup. The rice was actually an interesting touch, and I liked it. I put on some extra ketchup and some cheese on mine, but Tom bolted his down as it was and loved it.

Thanks, Ma!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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12 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Ae January 8, 2014 at 8:25 am - Reply

    You are welcome!

  2. Ae January 8, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Same edition as the meatloaf. 🙂

  3. Yinzerella January 8, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    I bet they don’t carry Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo at my Safeway.
    This does make me wanna go out and buy a can of Manwich 🙂

  4. dkzody January 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    I wouldn’t call them sloppy joes. More like sloppy gumbos.

  5. Ruth January 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Have to say I don’t think I’ve ever seen that soup at our Safeway, either. I’ll have to look now. We used Manwich when the kids were little until I read the lable one time. OMG, the amount of sugar they use in that stuff! Now it’s just reduced sugar ketchup (Heinz, tart, but very good!), mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, and mix to taste.

  6. Susan January 10, 2014 at 8:19 am - Reply

    I make these all the time except we call them “Dave’s Mom’s Sloppy Joes”. We love them! I use the same recipe but without the onions. My BIL made them from memory so I don’t know if he didn’t know about the onions or his mom didn’t add them. To jazz it up a bit I add minced garlic, Cayenne pepper, and Onion Salt when browning the beef.

  7. John January 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Sounds pretty good to me. I love gumbo. My Grandma used to make “mushy” joes – browned ground beef with a can of Campbell’s condensed cream of mushroom soup. They were awesome. My Mom could never duplicate the way Grandma’s tasted. I’m guessing because my Grandma didn’t drained all of the grease, and I know she added lots of black pepper.

  8. Tipsykit January 12, 2014 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    My mom made them this way as well, right down to referring to the chicken gumbo soup as the “secret ingredient!”

  9. cabracken January 12, 2014 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    I made these in 4H in the 60’s… called “Gumbo Burgers” 50 years later, my husband prefers this version!

  10. Barbara February 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Chicken Gumbo soup from Campbells is soooooo gross!

  11. GuyIncawgnito March 6, 2014 at 1:21 am - Reply

    Please to have another sloppy Jimbo?

  12. Sue March 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    I make these to this day! I love these and I have that cookbook that you picture!!

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