Andy Kopsa

Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality

Save Taylor’s Maid-Rite: A Plea

Behold

Some people call them loose meat sandwiches.  My people, Iowans, simply call them Maid-Rites.
Taylor’s Maid-Rite in Marshalltown, Iowa is an institution.  I grew up eating this ambrosia on a bun:  steamed ground beef, lovingly churned by employees  – some young, some a bit grizzled – served with your choice of onions, pickles or mustard, but not ketchup.  Never ketchup.  Sloppy and delicious, served wet or dry, wrapped whether you are staying or not.  A spoon is not optional.
Cliff Taylor and family, keepers of the Maid-Rite legacy

Cliff Taylor bought the “Maid Rite” franchise in 1928 for the whopping sum of $300.  Along with his family, Cliff operated Taylor’s Maid-Rite, baking home-made pies, slicing pickles from a Marshalltown pickler and buying fresh buns from a local bakery.  When Cliff died in 1944, his son Don and his wife, Polly, took over to keep it in the family.

Every time I go back home to visit, we take a trip to the Maid-Rite.  It is always a matter for discussion between the out of town siblings, when we are going, how we are getting there (car pool?  separate cars? meet up after a trip to the mall?), how many Maid-Rites are we are going to eat and whether it will be a malt or a shake this time.

A requirement for any man brave enough to date one of we three Kopsa sisters was a pilgrimage to Taylor’s  upon the first visit to meet my parents. These unknowing men from places like Chicago, New York or say, Edinburgh, Scotland, had no idea why the women they were dating went wild at the mere mention of Maid-Rites.  Until they had one, of course.

When I asked my daughter what food she wanted at her high school graduation party this is the list she came back with:  a chocolate fountain, Skittles and Maid-Rites.   I thought that was a brilliant idea.  The crowd went wild (for the Maid-Rites, I don’t have any data on their reaction to the fountain or Skittles).

We take these sandwiches very, very seriously.

The reason Taylor’s Maid-Rite is at risk is because the cooking method they use – a giant steamer essentially – is at odds with the parameters set forth by Iowa Environmental Health Association.
Iowa Senator Steve Sodders of State Center  introduced an amendment that would allow Taylor’s method to be grandfathered in, keeping the taste we love alive.  Here is his youtube plea, complete with an old timer’s testimonial:
Steve is a friend of mine.  I so loved his hutzpah in introducing this amendment, I had to ask him to share a happy Taylor’s Maid-Rite memory.
When I was a kid, my mom took us to the Maid Rite in Ames just off of Main St. I remember it was set up just like Taylor’s with the red swivel seats and the  horseshoe counter. We used to go Saturday mornings and watch Saturday morning cartoons.”

Senator Sodders went on to say, “I’m just trying to keep a piece of Americana intact.  I am proud to word for the people in my district.

Whatever Steve is doing, it is catching on.  The “Save Taylor’s Maid-Rite” Facebook page has over 8,000 members.

Help me save Taylor’s Maid-Rite for small town and big city landmarks everywhere.  Iowans, pass the word around.  Everyone else, visit the Facebook page.  Or better yet, order up some delicious Maid-Rites for yourself – they ship everywhere.  See what it is we are talking about, oozing about, and trying to save.  Share the joy, spread the word.

Click it to Ship it

Maid-Rite info:
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2 comments on “Save Taylor’s Maid-Rite: A Plea

  1. Pingback: When Maid Rites are Made Wrong | Iowa Geek

  2. jisutton
    August 10, 2010

    YES, Save Taylor’s Maid-Rite!!
    I grew up in Marshalltown and Eating there is such a wonderful memory. Everytime I go home I always try to make it in to eat one. My mom, daughter and I all love them!!
    Julie

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