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Gettin’ my Runza on

December 24, 2009

Runza, Nebraska's version of the loose meat sandwich.

Driving across Nebraska, husband and I noticed signs for “Runza” restaurants and had no idea what they were. We figured they were some kind of fast-food sandwich joint, maybe like a local version of Subway? Whatever it was, it was a popular place in Scottsbluff, judging by the size of the parking area for the tiny restaurant. We decided to check it out.

Turns out, a “Runza” is a loose meat sandwich, sold mostly in Nebraska, but also in two locations in Colorado, one in Kansas, and one in western Iowa. They probably won’t make too much headway in Iowa, due to competition with the local loose-meat sandwich, the Maid Rite. Judging by the “Runza fan” comments printed on the paperware at the restaurant, some people take their loose meat sandwich loyalty as seriously as that of their sports teams.

I am a minor consumer of red meat (making me a minority in this area), so the greasy, salty Swiss Mushroom Runza (the one I tried, which rivals the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese in terms of salt and fat) rates a “meh” on my culinary scale. And yet, I probably will go back. That insidious, “highly palatable” grease/salt combo gets landmarked in one’s brain by the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. Runza, I wish we had never met!

Text copyright 2009 by Katie Bradshaw. Image credit: Runza advertising flyer.

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