Our members-only newsletter, The 66 News is distributed quarterly since its first issue in September, 1989.
From time to time, we’ll share a piece from the magazine here on the website so you can see for yourself the kind of content you can expect in this quality publication. This article is from a decade ago, Spring, 2012. Enjoy!
The Horseshoe Sandwich
by John Weiss
It seems that many tourists from around the world do their homework before coming to Route 66 in Illinois. As a result, before they hit the highway, they want to have a real Chicago-style hot dog and a Chicago-style deep dish pizza.
Travelers also are seeking out two other taste treats that are only available in Illinois. One is the Cozy Dog. These travelers all seem to know that you can only get an authentic Cozy at the place that invented the hot dog on a stick. That, of course is the Cozy Dog Drive-In on Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois.
However, travelers are often bewildered about where they can get a Horseshoe Sandwich. There may even be some of you who are not familiar with this Illinois specialty. So I had better provide a little background information on what has become known as, “a heart attack on a plate.”
The Horseshoe sandwich was created in Springfield, Illinois in 1928. It is a very large open-faced sandwich. So large that most restaurants also offer a smaller version called a Pony Shoe. The name is derived from the first meat that was used – ham. When the meat was cut off from around the bone in one piece it will be in a “U” shape, somewhat like a horseshoe. The bread that the meat is placed on is considered the foot. Then it is covered with French fries. The fries are considered the nails.
So you end up with bread, usually Texas Toast (the hoof) with any kind of meat, fish or vegetable (the horseshoe). This is covered with the French fries (the nails). But here comes the most important part – cheese. This whole concoction is covered in cheese sauce. The cheese sauce from each restaurant is usually a location creation. The ingredients are often a very guarded secret
Of course I have had to experience some Horse and Pony Shoe sandwiches at various locations. I won’t make any recommendations. At all locations they offer various meats, fish or vegetables to choose from. One place claimed to have over 50 varieties. Many claimed to sell hundreds of Shoe sandwiches per week. I will mention that the worst Shoe I had was from a vendor at a fairgrounds. At one place it was so good that half way through I was already looking forward to returning for more.
I found Horseshoe Sandwiches in many restaurants located on Route 66 and almost everywhere in Springfield. I also learned that some establishments never heard of them. Some restaurants have gotten creative. They have invented their own breakfast version. Lots of liberties are taken, but the results of the breakfast shoe I tried was wonderful. The one used gravy instead of cheese and a choice of potatoes such as hash browns instead of french fries. They fixed me up with a 50/50 combo so I could try it both ways.
This project of finding the best places for a Horseshoe sandwich cannot be accomplished by me alone. If I did, then my next book would have to be on how to lose weight. So I need your help. I want all who are reading this to go have a Horseshoe or Pony Shoe sandwich somewhere. Then send me your comments (and photo) to Moxie66@sbcglobal.net or to P.O. Boxx 66, Wilmington, IL 60481. I will then add my collection of locations to those that I receive from all of you. We will then print this list. At the end of the year I will award a bathroom style scale to the person who provides me with the most Horseshoe sandwich locations.