Eating a Haystack

Each April, Lehman’s branch store, Mt. Hope Hardware, hosts its annual Customer Appreciation

Lehman's President Galen Lehman is about to enjoy his haystack dinner.

Lehman’s President Galen Lehman is about to enjoy his haystack dinner.

Event. Loyal local customers look forward to the many special sales and promotions, but a big highlight of the event is the haystack dinner, which is served free to the public.

Haystack dinners are part of our local Amish and Mennonite culture, and they are very popular as community fundraisers for neighbors and families in need.

Really a glorified taco salad, haystacks have been around for at least few generations, although no one seems to remember how long exactly. A quick Internet search reveals that, besides the Amish/Mennonite community, the Mormons and Seventh-Day Adventists around the U.S. also love their haystacks – but
they all contain different ingredients. 

Hot chili is poured onto the cooked rice.

Hot chili is poured onto the cooked rice.

If you want to enjoy authentic, Ohio Amish Country Haystacks, here’s what you’ll need:

Ohio Amish Country Haystacks

Chopped peppers and shredded cheese are added next.

Chopped peppers and shredded cheese are added next.

Ingredients:
Crushed saltine crackers
Hot cooked rice
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped green and hot peppers
Chopped onions
Crushed tortilla or corn chips
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chili (homemade or canned)
Ranch salad dressing (optional)
Warm cheese sauce

Haystack Assembly

Crushed tortilla chips add a hearty crunch.

Crushed tortilla chips add a hearty crunch.

John Steiner, the manager at Mt. Hope Hardware, says, “Each person builds their own haystack meal. Typically they will place some crushed crackers on the plate, followed by rice, lettuce, tomatoes, green and hot peppers, onions, crushed tortilla or corn chips, and shredded cheese. They’ll then add a dipper full of chili, perhaps some ranch dressing, and then add the finishing touch by drenching the whole concoction with cheese sauce.”

Haystack Dinner Party

Bring a little bit of Ohio’s Amish Country to your dinner table for your next gathering. Here’s a great idea from Lehman’s VP of Marketing, Glenda Lehman Ervin:

Host a haystack potluck dinner! Glenda assigned each guest to bring one ingredient for the haystacks. It was so much easier for her, rather than having to prepare all the different ingredients herself. Plus, she got the pleasure of seeing the confused looks on their faces when they arrived at her house with a bowl of chopped tomatoes, a bag of crushed saltine crackers or 2 lbs of shredded cheese. They had no idea what they were doing, but when the dinner came together, everyone learned to love haystacks that evening.