The Travel Channel is featuring the food on 'Taste of America.'
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Mention goetta in most places and you likely will get puzzled looks and some head scratching.
Ask natives of Cincinnati and northern Kentucky about it, and you are likely to start a debate about the merits of goetta burgers versus goetta omelets.
The blend of pork, beef, steel-cut oats and spices is a German dish that has been a favorite in Cincinnati since at least the 1880s. Goetta historians say it originated in Germany, where it was known under other names and was more of a porridge. Goetta today resembles sausage but with a consistency more like meat loaf.
"I've eaten it all my life, and I plan to keep on eating it as long as I am still going," said Elmer Schlupp, 87, of Edgewood, Ky.
Schlupp and other goetta lovers are hoping that a segment of "Taste of America," scheduled to air Tuesday on the Travel Channel, and the annual Goettafest, set for this weekend in Newport, Ky., will draw more devotees.
Glier's Meats in Covington, Ky., manufactures and sells a million pounds of goetta a year to groceries, restaurants and by mail order.
"We have a lot of people who have moved away, but they still want their goetta," owner Dan Glier said.
Steve Hess, 50, of Falmouth, Maine, who grew up eating goetta in Florence, Ky., said he couldn't leave it behind.
"Whenever we visit, we freeze some so we can bring it back with us," he said. He also has ordered it by mail.
"We've given goetta to friends, who of course have never heard of it, but they seem to enjoy it."
Glier said his dad, Robert, who founded the company in 1946, would have loved to see the growing popularity of goetta.
"Dad always loved the flavor of goetta, but he didn't like the way his mother fixed it, which was more like porridge," Glier said with a chuckle. "He always called Grandma's goetta a miserable excuse for a perfectly fine product."
Glier said his father started experimenting with the recipe and eventually began making it in the solid rolls or loafs sold today.
Traditionally, goetta has been a breakfast food, usually served with eggs and toast. That's how most customers at Price Hill Chili, a family restaurant on the west side of Cincinnati, order it.
"Our goetta with eggs is a big seller," said restaurant co-owner Steve Beltsos.
Customer Barb Wallet, 54, of Cincinnati, says goetta is more than just a favorite food.
"It's like a family tradition," she said. "It brings back a lot of memories from childhood when we would have it Sunday after church."
Her husband, John, who was focusing on cleaning up the last few bits of goetta on his plate, said his father worked near Glier's and often would bring goetta home.
"We grew up on it," he said.
Across the river in Erlanger, Ky., customers of the Colonial Cottage restaurant have an array of goetta choices.
Owner Matt Grimes said demand prompted him to offer a "come and goetta" menu that offers goetta and eggs, goetta hash, a pancake goetta wrap, goetta grilled cheese on rye, a goetta reuben sandwich and a goetta burger.
Customer Paul Towe, 71, of Erlanger, however, remains a traditionalist.
"I'm not interested in any of those new things," said Towe, who has eaten goetta for most of his life. "I just want it the way I've always had it."
Viewers of the Travel Channel show will watch customers of both restaurants dribbling a basketball while eating goetta, doing a goetta dance and singing a goetta jingle. After watching the episode, viewers will be encouraged to visit the "Taste of America" Web site and vote on which restaurant's customers are the biggest goetta fans.