Runza – a Nebraska original

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I was first introduced to Runza as a kid. In a previous post – Why I Blame my Dad ,  I mentioned how we moved every couple of years. When we came home to visit, Runza was one of the “must” stops we had to make, so my dad could enjoy some native Nebraska food.

We moved to Nebraska during my eighth grade year in school. I will not say what year that was (a lady has some pride concerning her age – LOL).

During our visits, Runza was always a treat we kids looked forward to. Those crisp, crinkly fries and homemade onion rings were icing on the cake in addition to some of my main favorites. Runza fries and rings

I would usually get either the cheese Runza or the mushroom Swiss Runza. My husband Tim would never touch the latter. He’s not a fan of fungus, he would say.

To this day, I am torn about what to get when we go to Runza. I usually prefer the cheese Runza, but the burgers are sooooo delicious. Next to my dad’s grilled burgers, I think Runza has the next best burgers. They are handmade daily.

What the heck is a Runza?

It’s a bread dough made from scratch and stuffed full of ground beef, onions, cabbage, and secret spices—and then baked fresh and served hot. They have 3 standard flavors that are always available of these tasty treats –  regular, cheese and mushroom and Swiss. Unfortunately, I could not get Becky Perrett, Director of Marketing, to divulge the secret spices.

Runza

Runza dates back to Russia. Russians made this sandwich. A group eventually migrated to Germany, where the sandwich was introduced. It eventually made its way to the American Midwest via Russian-German immigrants.

Runza is very popular in Nebraska. They are sold at each home football game. On a cold day, they serve as hand-warmers at Husker football games. Then as a filling meal.

As Nebraska fans travel to football bowl sites in the postseason, Runza  does its best to be there, too. Sometimes due to the shortened turnaround time, as well as restrictions by the hosting locations, they are not able to follow the Huskers. However, they make every attempt to serve hot Runzas to their fans at the bowl games.

There are currently 80 locations in the region – Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado and Kansas. Of the total, a little more than half are corporate owned.

Runza

Runza leaders believe in slow, consistent growth. They target opening 2-3 new stores per year. The franchisee process is challenging by design. They want to ensure that the quality of food and service is matched at every store. This is primarily due to the amount of homemade products that they offer.

Runza staff members start their days early – baking the dough, and prepping fresh ingredients by hand. This includes hand slicing onions for burgers and onion rings, shredding lettuce, and  stirring pots of chili.

Chili and cinnamon rolls are very popular during colder months. The chili is as good as homemade (don’t tell your mom that, though). Runza chili and cinnamon rolls

Runza has a winter promotion based on the temperature of the day. Runzas cost the temperature at 6 a.m. local on “Temperature Tuesdays” during a six-week run in January and February. So, if it is 20 degrees, a regular Runza would be 20 cents, along with the purchase of medium drink and fries. If the temp is zero or below, the Runza is free. Depending on the weather pattern that particular year, this can make for really cheap meals. This promotion is always a big hit for them. In a couple of different offices I have worked in, on Tuesdays, there might be a few people that would give one person money to go ahead and pick up Runza meals for the crew.

Runza is so popular, when Nebraskans move away, they crave it. Some people will do anything to get a Runza. They are called “Runzatics.”

I remember reading about one person who worked for an airline in Milwaukee, WI. On an off-day, they grabbed a flight to Omaha, just to have a Runza.

A sister-in-law who lives in Kansas City would drive to southeast Nebraska on occasion for a Runza.

The term “Runzatic” became an officially trademarked word in 2009. You can read about other Runzatics on the company’s website – www.runza.com.

Becky  said she has a built-in conversation starter when she mentions that she works for Runza. She frequently will get people to tell her their Runzatic stories.

 

Runza food2


 

Comments

  1. laura mclaughlin says:

    I have two favorites and I hit them both up when I see them. Jack in the box located every where but Omaha. My other favorite is the clam chowder from Mo’s Seafood Restaurant located a long the the Coast of Oregon off hwy 101.

    • I have been to Jack in the Box a few times. I remember having great clam chowder when I lived on the East Coast in Long Island, NY. I will have to try some on the West Coast when out that way!

  2. We are big foodies in my family and I am definitely reading more about Runzas! I wish there were some in my area!

  3. I have driven across Nebraska more than 2 dozen times in 10 years and only first stopped at Runza this summer for the first time. The one in Sydney is very visible, but also next to an Arby’s which we always choose. I had the mushroom swiss, and honestly it was not for me, but my husband would have loved it! We’ll definitely stop on our next trip through.

  4. Runza fanatic for sure. When I was in the Navy, the first stop off the plane was always Runza when I came home.

  5. I love Jack in the Box tacos. Whenever we go on vacation I ALWAYS plan ahead to stop at one. Once we even drove all the way to Kansas City (from Omaha) and then back again in the same day just so I could have some tacos!

  6. Never been to Nebraska but if I ever do I’ll make sure to stop by Runza.

  7. LOVE Runza. I was born and raised here in Nebraska and have spent all of my 29 years here. There is a good chance, though, that our family will be moving in the next year. I don’t wanna lose my Runza!!

  8. What a great way to feature local businesses. Great job.

  9. that burger looks so good I have never heard of Runza and I dont have one near me which sucks.

  10. OK. Now I am drooling! Thanks a lot. 😉 I love Runza. It is dangerously close to my work, and since I have a 25-30 min. lunch, it’s usually fast enough to indulge every once in awhile. I too am torn between Runzas and burgers. . .but the fries are ALWAYS on the menu!

  11. I have always loved Runza and Maidrite!

  12. Lived here for 5 years and have yet to try Runza, my boys would be thrilled the food looks and sounds good!

  13. I’ve never been to Nebraska, but I love places like that with local appeal.

    • We do too. If I head to another area, we always try to find local. That may even include a chain that we can’t find back home. Do you have a favorite chain that you seek out when you travel out of town?

  14. Runza is our favorite Nebraska eatery. But when we go to Oklahoma, it’s Braums. Their food and ice cream is AMAZING!! And there’s like a little grocery in the restaurant so we can get fruit for in the car. YUM!

  15. Ashley Vazquez says:

    We are definitely Runza fanatics! We eat it a few times a month. I have been addicted to the chili lately! 🙂

  16. Love Runza!! I was in school in Oklahoma for 4 years and every time we went back to school, we brought a giant cooler full of frozen runzas!!

  17. I think Runza is a great fast food. It is different! Love the cheese runza the best!

  18. Love Runza but I don’t understand the cinnamon rolls and chili???

  19. Love Runza and my hubs does even more! It’s all about the crinkly fries here!

  20. Sad I missed this giveaway. Definitely a Runzatic!
    Gretchen Garrison recently posted…Merry Christmas from York County, NebraskaMy Profile

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