(PUEBLO, Colo.) — We are Southern Colorado, and as we wrap up our We Are Pueblo coverage, we can’t talk about the Steel City without mentioning the famous Pueblo Slopper. But the history of the dish seems to be as messy as the Slopper itself.

It’s the Steel City’s claim to food fame.

Mayor Nick Gradisar said, “It’s a dish that’s unique in Pueblo.”

“Pueblo is unique for a lot of different things. The Slopper is obviously one of them. We’re known for that,” said Dean Gray, part owner of Gray’s Coors Tavern.

And the Slopper certainly lives up to its name.

Gray said, “A Slopper is basically a hamburger, but it’s really not a hamburger. The bun is on the bottom, it’s open face with patties on each bun.”

“If it wasn’t smothered in green chili, I would consider it a sandwich, but after it’s smothered, takes on a whole new life,” said Frank Lopez, head cook at Star Bar.

“Basically, it’s a chili burger but not a chili burger like most people would think of a chili burger, you know what I mean?” Gray said.

“I don’t know… you can consider it similar to, like, biscuits and gravy, you know. Is biscuits and gravy a sandwich?” said Lopez.

You can find a version of the Slopper on just about every menu in Pueblo.

Mayor Gradisar said, “You could go to Applebee’s or some places, and they might not have a Slopper on the menu, but even the country club, you can get a Slopper off the menu.”

The history of the Slopper, like the dish itself, is kind of a layered mess.

Let’s start with Gray’s Coors Tavern.

“The story that I was told in the 1950s, I think it was 1950 or 1951 somewhere in there, a man by the name of Herb Kasper, who used to own a small sporting goods shop around the corner here we come into Coors and have a hamburger every day and he would tell the old owners that he wanted a burger, but he wanted chili and to put it in a bowl and slop it up, and so that’s where the Slopper originated,” said Gray.

Then there’s the Star Bar story.

“From what I hear, it was in the 1970s, and from what I know, it was the green chili, and somebody from the mill came in and was in a hurry and said, ‘You know, let me have a bowl of green chili and a hamburger’. And then he just put the chili on top of the hamburger, and then they called it a sloppy hamburger,” Lopez said.

But the one thing that’s indisputable, is green chili is the star of the Slopper show.

“Well, actually, this is the green chili meister right here. She cooks all the green chili, all the red chili,” said Lopez.

Star Bar’s owner, and Frank’s wife, Cherie Lopez said, “I make it with a lot of heart and soul.”

You’ll likely never forget the first time you sink your teeth into one.

“I remember it was in probably the 1970s, when I was a little kid. We would come in here sometimes and I ate a Slopper and I was like, ‘Wow! Ah!’. People, when they try their first Slopper or when they are no longer a ‘Slopper Virgin’ as we like to call it around here, most people are pretty pleased because it’s just all the flavors kind of hit you once… It’s a pretty unique experience,” said Gray.

And as for who has the best Pueblo Slopper, you just have to head down I-25 to find out for yourself.

Gradisar said, “I’m partial to the original Slopper of Gray’s Coor’s Tavern.”

“You should come and visit us at the Star Bar, have a drink, have a Slopper, have a five star burger. You’ll be happy with it,” said Lopez.

“I don’t care if it’s at the Sunset or the Star Bar or whatever,” said Gray. “It makes me feel proud, makes my family feel proud because in a way, because in my opinion, we were the one that kind of started that whole thing. And it’s pretty cool to think about, really.”