Anyone from Iowa has eaten hundreds of them in their lifetime. Other parts of the country often say 'What?' when we talk about maid-rites. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise, since the roots of the simple sandwich can be traced right here to eastern Iowa.

Back in 1926, Muscatine, Iowa butcher Fred Angell mixed up a special seasoning and put it on crumbled beef. According to Maid-Rite corporation, he gave it to a delivery man who apparently loved it so much he proclaimed the sandwich was "made right." And so the maid-rite was born.

The first Maid-Rite restaurant opened in Muscatine in 1926. Sandwiches were sold from a walk-up window. Years later, it would lead to numerous restaurant chains using drive-up windows. Ninety-six years later, Muscatine still has a Maid-Rite:

A year after coming up with the new sandwich, Fred Angell began franchising Maid-Rite restaurants. Newton, Iowa would be first (and still has a Maid-Rite today), followed by Marshalltown in 1928.

Cliff Taylor paid $300 for the Marshalltown franchise and Taylor's Maid-Rite Hamburger Shop was born. The family-run business has been passed through the generations and is now run by Cliff's grandaughter Sandra. According to their website, "We haven't changed very much in the last 70 (now 90+) years. We still grind 100% choice beef daily to ensure its quality and freshness. We make ice cream from our original recipe and continue to offer fresh-baked pies."

For those who aren't from the Midwest and may have never heard of a maid-rite, here's Taylor's Maid-Rite's explanation:

a loose meat sandwich made of finely ground hamburger. The hamburger is ground fresh daily, cooked in our cast-iron cooker, put on a bun and served with mustard, pickles and/or chopped onions. Now, after 90 years, ketchup is available on the counter!


Something tells me that if you're a maid-rite lover who hasn't had one for a while you might just have to whip up a batch after reading this. Or visit one of the restaurant locations in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, or Iowa, where the vast majority of Maid-Rite restaurants remain today. That shouldn't come as a big surprise considering right here is where it all started.

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