Omaha Famous #32

Local music, food, and people, you should know


Runza – the original Nebraska hand-warmer and portable meat tube

Oh noble Runza… Food for the simple man, food for the wayward traveler, food for the brave soul seeking to travel west, food for the family as they trek across country in a wagon along the Oregon trail, for the search for gold in dem dare hills or something like that…

Anyways you get the point…I am a fan of Runza. It’s a true Nebraskan staple. I am not a historian but I do believe Lewis and Clark ate Runzas as they made their way across the Missouri River along the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge and shared them with the Native Americans – who kindly rejected the offer.

Every state has to have their “thing” when it comes to food and gosh darn it, maybe we didn’t draw the best straw here, but we are stuck with what we got and we will hold it dear. The Runza is a national treasure, and for those who don’t know, it is also a portable meat tube, filled with shredded beef and cabbage. No doubt the descendent of some European fare at a time when people were really, really poor. Like, really poor.

And to this day it continues to delight us. It sticks to your ribs and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s like eating all your food groups in one portable bread tube: Meat, bread, and cabbage. Personally, I like to get em without cheese whiz because I am a bit of a purist and back in the Oregon trail days we didn’t have that fancy stuff.

Runza was started in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1949 by Sally Everett. They keep it local between Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas, and chose not to go national in order to keep it all fresh n what not. They bake the bread fresh every morning, and they probably kill the cow shortly after that. That’s dedication to the craft.

Be proud Nebraska. And today, as things get chilly, go get yourself a classic Nebraskan hand warmer and relive the story of Lewis and Clark, and the story of Nebraska.