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A plaque marks the birth of the horseshoe

A version of the horseshoe sandwich.
flickr/RyanHarvey
A version of the horseshoe sandwich.

A plaque installed this week at the site of the former Leland Hotel pays homage to a Springfield original and, along with Abraham Lincoln, one of the city's most recognizable icons: the horseshoe sandwich.

The horseshoe dates back nearly a century and may be more popular than ever.

Local historians usually credit the delicacy to Chef Joe Schweska and his wife Elizabeth in 1928 at the hotel at the corner of Sixth St. and Capitol Ave.

The plaque on the outside of the former Leland Hotel, which now is home to the Illinois Commerce Commission.
Visit Springfield
The plaque on the outside of the former Leland Hotel, which now is home to the Illinois Commerce Commission.

The plaque explains the name came from the cut of ham used in the sandwich. French fries represent the nails and the platter represents the hot anvil. Along with a devoted following, the horseshoe even has its own book.

Visit Springfield's Amy Beadle said the decision to add a plaque came after tourist questions about the sandwich's origin.

The horseshoe is served a variety of ways with various bread, meat and cheese. For those who can't handle a larger size, the smaller "ponyshoe" is offered. There are also breakfast and dessert shoes. You can find the items at many area restaurants.

The Leland Hotel horseshoe recipe.
The Leland Hotel horseshoe recipe.

Although cheese sauces vary by chef, a Wikipedia entry says the sauce is generally derived from Welsh rarebit. "Common ingredients include eggs, stale beer, butter, sharp cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, flour, dry mustard, paprika, salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper," according to the entry.

While far from the healthiest food in town, Springfield embraces the horseshoe and even started a horseshoe trail this year. It includes an app that tracks those who seek to find the sandwiches throughout the capital city,

The menu from the Red Lion Tavern, formerly housed in the Leland Hotel.
A menu from the Red Lion Tavern, formerly housed in the Leland Hotel. (Year unknown)

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