by Robert Reid for USA TODAY 10Best

Bierock is one delicious sandwich you've probably never heard of

It sounds like a heavy metal festival, but around Kansas, a "bierock" is meant for the peckish.

Image courtesy of Robert Reid

Swaddled in a thin layer of dough, the hand-sized bread roll houses a German wonderland of ground beef, cabbage, onion, spice and brown mustard.

Interestingly, this "German snack" never graced an oven in Germany. Not historically. To try one, you have to go to the Great Plains.

"The first I heard of bierocks was when we opened our food truck and people started asking for them."

-Manu English, a German native from Rheinland Pfalz who runs Wichita’s Prost with her husband Austin

But where did bierocks come from?

In the 1760s, Russian empress Catherine the Great lured German peasants to settle the isolated steppes off the Volga River in southern Russia with promises of free land and no military service. Thousands came.

Within 40 years, over 100 communities were thriving, along with the emergence of a new farmers’ snack inspired by both Tatar cooking and Russian pirozhkis: behold the bierock!

Once Catherine’s promised privileges started to fade away – capped when the Russian military began drafting Volga Germans in the 1870s – many headed to Kansas and Nebraska instead.

As a result, the bierock makes up a daily part of the Kansan diet. Up in Nebraska, these doughy sandwich delights are known as the runza.

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