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I used to love Hunt's "Manwich" BBQ ground beef sandwiches as a teenager. Decades later, I recently bought a can and made a batch, according to Hunt's recipe, to revisit the taste/treat memory and found it to be shockingly and cloyingly sweet. One bite and the rest went into the trash. Unsalvageable.

Several months later I was thinking about Manwiches again and thought to myself "let me make my own adult version". The solution was simple. All I did was make my favorite tomato based ground meat spaghetti sauce from scratch, add a few scant dashes of Bull's Eye mesquite BBQ sauce, and put it on cheap, toasted Van De Kamp's english muffins rather than hamburger buns. Delicious!

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  1. I had a similar experience in college. I tried to relive some of my childhood memories and ended up thinking, "what the hell was I thinking?"

    I'll have to try your adult version.

    1. My down and dirty version is made with organic ketchup, lea and perrins, garlic and onion. Brown the meat, add the ketuchup, et al. Serve on warm Kaiser rolls. Either with tater tots or ridged potato chips to pick up the run off. Bf loves 'em.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bryan

        that pretty much how I make sloppy joe's, but instead of ketchup I use tomato paste and some canned tomatoes. :)

      2. i've never eaten "manwich", but i'll bet you a nickel it now has high fructose corn syrup in it.

        1 Reply
        1. I made the Sloppy Joe's recipe from the Joy of Cooking recently and it was quite good.

          1. I usually find the store-brand sloppy joe sauce to be less sweet than "real" Manwich. Only once did I ever spring for the real deal and I'll never bother again.

            1. There is a really great sloppy joe recipe in The New Basics (Lukins). I love this on some homemade polenta rolls.

              1 Reply
              1. re: coconutz

                this is the one I use as well. This recipe uses the microwave, but I adapted it to just making it in a pot on the stove. The ingredients are just right on the sweet/sour flavor. The only thing missing is a can of mushrooms!

              2. I'm glad I read this.
                I too loved Manwich when I was a kid. I haven't had it in years but every once in a while if I catch a glimpse of the can, I consider it.

                I make a pretty damned good sloppy joe so I think I'll stay with it instead.


                1. I'm trying to wean my husband off the canned sloppy joe mix, and I used this recipe from the Food Network. Yes, it's Rachael Ray, but it's sloppy joe's! Not exactly gourmet.


                  It turned out really well, with a few changes I made. I cut the brown sugar in half, used spicy Montreal seasoning, chopped up a canned chipotle with adobo sauce, and added a couple of serranos to the bell pepper. Very tasty and MUCH less sugar and sodium and more fiber than Manwich from a can.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: heatherkay

                    Reading this thread yesterday gave me a craving, so I made the Rachael Ray version. I used less meat and less sugar and a green pepper instead of red, since that is what I had on hand. It's delicious and really fast. I kind of like having the leftovers the next day for lunch. thanks!

                    1. re: heatherkay

                      Your tweaks to the recipe sound really good.

                    2. I used to love Manwich until I used the Lawry's seasoning packet method. Very savory, almost like spaghetti sauce. Please try it it's very good.

                      1. My mom would never buy Manwich, so we had sloppy joes instead with lots of chopped onion, tomato paste, and the Lawry's mix. Now you are making me crave them, with a side of tater tots.

                        1. I bet you could find more natural versions of these prefab spice blends and sauces at Frontier. http://www.frontiercoop.com/products/...

                          1. I've never bought it or tasted the canned product.
                            Our standard, from grade school on, is cream of tomato soup (I now use Healthy Choice or low sodium), a splash of vinegar, lots of chopped onions and garlic powder and a good blast of Worcestshire. Served on soft white rolls--none of this artisan bakery, you need a good squishy white bread roll. Sometimes you just need a night to 'joe.

                            1. I bought a can of Manwich about 6 months ago to serve to our children, and as others mentioned, to recapture my own childhood. Yikes ! The stuff tasted more like a dessert than a sandwich. Oh yeah, "A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal". Farewell old friend !

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: TonyO

                                it makes me wonder know i just baught a can teh other day and havnt made it yet and know im like do i really want to make it lolive been in the mood for it im like hmmmm sounds good and fast and easy

                                1. re: littleprincess965

                                  I don't usually serve manwich without doctoring it. I use it for two pounds of ground beef, and I add a can of chopped tomatoes and chiles. Cuts the sweetness a lot, and gives it a nice kick, but is still massively easy. This is reserved for "if I have to do yet ANOTHER thing tonight, I'm going to kill someone" nights. :)

                                2. re: TonyO

                                  " ...... but a Manwich is a gleam in the corn producers' eyes"

                                  Oh look, high-fructose corn syrup [rolls eyes]


                                3. I don't think I've ever had the Manwich product, but plenty of Sloppy Joes. In fact I'm making them tonight using ground turkey and fresh corn off the cobb.
                                  I would not be able to help you in recreating that particular product, but the sauce for the Sloppy Joe's I grew up with was tomato paste based and I make it similarly.
                                  A sweetish smokey flavor. With the addition of a good grade smokey paprika, onions, a tad bit of sugar, fresh garlic, and serrano chilies instead of green bell pepper, fresh corn, tomato sauce and paste, a smdige of red wine vinegar, and maple syrup or sugar (brown), salt and pepper. I like the sauce meat mix thick, and I'll serve it on fresh Portugese rolls that have been buttered, then grill lightly. I'm sure my husband will request a slice of provolone, and I will top mine with small dice red onion.
                                  Side will be acorn squash,and a baby greens salad with a simple red vinegar and olive oil dressing. That's a quick dinner!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    That sounds like a good recipe chef chicklet. Unless you like sweet, the best way is to make from scratch so you can regulate the sweetness.

                                    1. re: 2chez mike

                                      Is the manwich product sweet? Exactly, enough to cut the acidity though and balance out. No, not too sweet, I know what you mean.

                                    2. re: chef chicklet

                                      Made them and did they ever come out great!
                                      The cumin, and the chili powder are a must, (I left that out in the earlier post) and lots of onions, Tomato paste, water, a little vinegar and sugar to even out acidity. I did split and toast the buns on the flat side of the cast iron griddle, and I topped mine with fresh parsley and onions. The Portuguese rolls are sturdy but fresh, a tinge sweet,and grilling them keeps them from getting soggy (as if there was any time!) We devoured them in seconds! With all the flavor from the seasoning, the turkey was like ground beef. I watch fat (cholesterol) as much as I can, and here is a way that you can cut out fat and not miss it.
                                      La Chinata - smoked hot paprika, gave additional heat, probably if you want to have less spicy, don't include the Serrano chili, or use a milder paprika.
                                      After eating his meal, my dh said, "and why don't we have these more often?" That's a nice compliment!

                                      I think this is a good way to raise the bar on an old classic recipe!

                                    3. When I was a kid back in the 50's-60's, I disliked Sloppy Joes because, in those days, soggy was nasty and I just couldn't handle what that stuff did to the roll. Hence, Manwich wasn't even a consideration. These days, I've somewhat softened my stance on soggy and make a not-so-sloppy version sometimes called a "tavern" in Iowa. The family has enjoyed my different "takes" on this basic recipe. Quality and texture of the ground beef, strength of onion, ketchup or other "red sauce", how sweet, how spicy, are up to the chef. Just don't brown the meat; simmer it according to instructions until it's as "unsloppy" as you like it.

                                      2 lbs hamburger (I use 80/20 chuck)
                                      1 onion, minced
                                      1 tsp dry mustard (I use Coleman's)
                                      3/4 cup ketchup or bbq sauce or combo (Heinz or Sweet Baby Ray)
                                      1 tsp chili powder
                                      1 tsp salt
                                      2 cups water

                                      Bring all ingredients (except hamburger) to a simmer and simmer 10 min. Add hamburger (without browning) and simmer for 20 minutes or longer if you want it pretty dry. While cooking the meat, I break down the clumps with a wooden spoon and try to make the overall texture as "broke down" as I have the time and patience for. I serve it on a cheap hamburger bun with a slice of Boar's Head white American cheese and a couple of thin slices of dill pickle. I don't know if it freezes well since I've never had any leftovers

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: grampart

                                        My husband and I are on a mega-fiber kick and used Boca crumbles with our sloppy joe mix. It was SO tasty - hardly could tell it was Boca crumbles. mmm.

                                        1. re: grampart

                                          I think I'll be using your recipe next time I make Sloppy Joe's, which, if I had my way, would be for Thanksgiving Dinner! YUM!!

                                        2. This thread is freakishly timely! I just made sloppy joe's last week for the first time ever.

                                          I didn't want to make the kind that I had as a kid (yep, Manwich) so I made Epicurious' Chili-cheese sloppy joes subbing soy ground for beef, and smoked paprika and cumin for the chili powder.

                                          1. I never liked Manwich back in the day, but my secret ingredients for the "gourmet" version are molasses (any kind), brown sugar, organic tomato paste, jalapeno oil, and soy sauce. Oh, and ground bison.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: foiegras

                                              Jalapeno oil? Do tell. (i.e. is this something you make or buy?)

                                              1. re: Olivia

                                                Perhaps a better term would be jalapeno liquor :) From canned jalapenos. I use it in chili too ... it always seems to add that missing something, perfectly rounding out the flavor.

                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                  That sounds great! Thanks for the idea and explanation. I'll be sure to try that soon.

                                                  1. re: Olivia

                                                    Big Y grocery store has a store brand of sloppy joe sauce, and it's less sweet than Manwich.

                                            2. I always add a little bourbon to mine (same with BBQ sauce).

                                              1. What is "Manwich" when you really think about it? Nothing more than an overly sweet marinara sauce. These days the sweet coming from HFCS,

                                                1. We never had Manwhich and often had the kind made from the back of the packet.

                                                  I quite like this recipe though, using a little less beef than called for an two diced carrots, plus about half the sugar. http://www.thekitchn.com/weeknight-re...

                                                  1. Never had Manwhich as a kid, so when I saw it on the shelf, I figured what the heck could it hurt? I picked up two cans of the original and two cans of the BBQ. I mixed a can of each with the hamburger.....man alive I had to put in extra can of plain tomato sauce it was WAY hot (Spicy) after dinner I was checking the ingredients. Oh my was that a big mistake! Holy cow, who in the right world would put fish in a product that is suppose to me mixed with beef?????? Only Manwich! The BBQ has fish (anchovies). Really, are you kidding me that is so gross and disgusting besides making me waist the hamburger that went in it. Wish I would of known before buying it, now I check the ingredients on products I don't know, call it gun shy or maybe a little fishy. LOL

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: JDOregon

                                                      Was the anchovies listed as a Worcestershire Sauce ingredient? I only ask that as that is what I add to my sloppy joe mix.

                                                      I'll agree that the store bought is entirely too sweet, however, sloppy joes is an easy way to use up some of the bits in the produce bin (onion, celery, peppers, etc.)

                                                    2. This thread is not helping my wish to have Sloppy Joe's for Thanksgiving Dinner. Not kidding, by the way!

                                                      Manwich is full of sweetener. The last time I made them I bought the Kroger Sloppy Joe packet that needs a can of tomato sauce. It was much better than the Manwich can.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                                        Then again, *everything* is much better than the Manwich can.