|Place of origin||United States|
|Region or state||Nebraska|
|Created by||None/Traditionally Ethnic (Volga Germans)|
|Main ingredients||Bread, Ground beef, Cabbage, Seasonings, Onion|
|Variations||Cheddar Cheese, Swiss Cheese & Mushrooms, Italian style, Jalapeños, Vegetarian|
|530 (Standard/"Original") kcal|
A runza (also called a bierock, krautburger, or kraut pirok) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings. Runzas can be baked into various shapes such as a half-moon, a rectangle, a round (bun), a square, or a triangle. The runzas sold by the Runza restaurant chain are rectangular while many of the bierocks sold in Kansas are round buns.
The runza is a regional cuisine of Nebraska, with some commentators calling it "as Nebraskan as Cornhusker football." It is served by the Nebraska Society of Washington, D.C., and the Nebraska Society of New York at their Taste of Nebraska events and was chosen to represent the state at Flavored Nation, an event serving iconic dishes from all fifty states.
The runza sandwich originated from pirog, an Eastern European baked good or more specifically from its small version, known as pirozhok (literally "little pirog"). Volga Germans, ethnic Germans who settled in the Volga River valley in the Russia Empire at the invitation of Catherine the Great in the 18th century, adapted the pirog/pirozhok to create the bierock, a yeast pastry sandwich with similar savory ingredients. When the political climate turned against the Volga Germans, many emigrated to the United States, creating communities across the Great Plains. These immigrants, including the Brening family that settled near Sutton, Nebraska, brought their bierock recipes with them. Sarah "Sally" Everett (née Brening), originally of Sutton, is credited with adapting her family's bierock recipe into the runza and also inventing the name for the sandwich. In 1949, Everett went into business selling runzas with her brother Alex in Lincoln.
Many sources agree that Sally Everett invented the name "runza" although it is likely she adapted it from an existing name for the sandwich; either the krautrunz, an older, different German name for the bierock, or the Low German runsa, meaning "belly", alluding to the gently rounded shape of the pouch pastry. The modern German ranzen, also meaning satchel, derives from runsa. The word "runza" is registered as a trademark in the United States, held by the Runza restaurant chain.
Some bake them in a round shape. Some make them rectangular.
What do you do when you live 1,252 miles from Nebraska and you suddenly have a craving for a Runza or a slice of Valentino's pizza? You order them flown in, of course. That's exactly what the Nebraska Society of New York plans to do for its Nebraska food extravaganza in New York City Sunday.