Appalachian Food Ghosts - Haints - Spooky

Do you like Deviled Ham?

Deviled Ham

Do you like deviled ham? I do. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it’s a food that is shunned by most of society. Eating a deviled ham sandwich with fresh soft light bread spread with mayonnaise washed down with a glass of sweet tea takes me straight back to childhood.


Deviled Ham Sandwich tastes like home

While there are other brands of deviled ham, the Underwood Brand is the most popular.

William Underwood’s food business started in 1822 in Boston. In the beginning, Underwood used glass jars for his food stuffs, but once business picked up he was forced to start using cans because the local glass makers couldn’t keep up with his glass jar needs.

Much of Underwood’s success was due to the migration of people heading west, his canned goods were the perfect staple for them to pack for the trip. Once the Civil War started the government began to purchase Underwood products for soldiers in the field.

In 1868 Underwood’s sons begin experimenting with ground ham. They added a variety of spices and once they achieved the taste they were pleased with, deviled ham was created.

Shortly afterwards the famous pitchfork toting devil trademark was created and the Underwood Company began using it on cans of deviled ham. Interesting tidbit about the trademark-it is said to be the oldest trademark still in use in the US.


Deviled Ham and Mayo

Once I discovered the product dated to the late 1800s I asked Pap if he ever ate deviled ham as a child. He said he didn’t remember eating deviled ham until he was an adult, probably in the early 1950s.

I think us kids used to look at that red dancing devil on the wrapper and pretend we were really eating devil meat. But then again maybe that was just me pretending.

Deviled ham – yes or no?




You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    August 17, 2021 at 7:07 am

    Deviled ham is one of my favorite things to eat. My grandaddy got me started on it years ago. He would mix a little mayonnaise and a drop or two of vinegar in it. Then spread it on bread. It’s delicious! Have you ever tried potted meat and crackers? That’s good too!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Underwood deviled ham is a favorite of mine. Only problem is I have to eat it within a few days of going to the store. It’s just one of those things I grab in a hurry. I find it hard to believe its made of scraps since it not cheap for such a tiny can! I have to say I kinda miss using the little key to open the can like years ago! Love this blog Tipper. I live in SE Virginia and have always loved the mountains. I’m almost 70 now but still dream of living in a cabin in the Appalachians and learning to live as they did years ago. I understand it must have been/and still is hard work but I dont hear a lot of complaining but mostly sweet memories and lots of love no matter how hard things got! Thanks so much for sharing so much of your lives.

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    October 22, 2017 at 7:29 am

    I haven’t eaten deviled ham since I worked summers in the knit yarn unit at Beaumont Mills in Spartanburg over 40 years ago. That was an easy lunch to pack, two slices of bread in tin foil, a can of DH, a plastic knife and a paper towel. No mayo because we had no refrigerator. But if I ate it at home, it would be slathered with Dukes.
    I’ll have to look for it again and introduce it to the grandbabies. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Clint-nope its not like ham salad : ) Get your mom to tell you, I bet she knows about it. 

  • Reply
    October 26, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Good ol’ canned meats – I grew up on them; and the vienna sausages were good for travel food for the toddlers as well as the “olders”.
    I only bought dry cat food, but when I opened canned meats, I always poured the juices on the cat food in the cats’ bowl. Kept their coats nice and glossy.
    I’d put some of the broth from stewed meats on their too – freshly stewed chicken makes a much better chicken salad and freshly boiled bone makes a much better broth!!

  • Reply
    Brenda Schlosser
    October 24, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    With mayo on one slice, mustard and onion on the other slice. Same with spam, potted meat, and Vienna sausages. It’s been too long though. I need to remedy that soon.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 24, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    My son, said one time, “When things get tight, it’s time for white bread and potted meat!” Ha

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 24, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Today’s comment is about the fourth one I’ve lost. Must be operator error!
    My Mom fixed potted meat n’ scrambled with eggs for sandwiches. The Deviled Ham (tasted better than potted meat) was for crackers n’ snacks!
    Grew up on a lot of canned meats. Armour Star Corned beef, (dad fixed sliced meat sandwiches), Salmon (salmon paddies/cooked and made sandwiches), Spam (fried sliced for supper or cold for sandwiches, Vienna sausage n’ crackers snacks and in the picnic basket/fishing trips, Tuna, casseroles and sandwiches and Deviled Ham and Potted meat!
    I use Corned beef today for cabbage n’ corned beef for a quick meal, not often usually around St. Patrick’s Day. No sandwiches. The rest for the “preppers cupboard” in case of power outage, icy snows, etc. I also have begun to use the Costco canned Chicken Breast meat for quick chicken salad, even though I generally prefer to cook fresh chicken when not in a hurry! Also, use it for Chicken Alfredo if I don’t have any fresh cooked chicken. We never ate canned chicken growing up!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Janet E.
    October 24, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I haven’t eaten Underwood for years. Love ham salad sandwiches, so keep a supply of $1. cans of chopped ham from any of the dollar stores. Mix with some Miracle Whip and sweet pickle relish – yum!!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Yuck,, not me.. It’s one of those last foods I’d eat just to keep from starving..

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I love Deviled Ham as a sandwich, course I eat Vienna Wieners, and Potted meat too. I had always heard that (like Miss Cindy said), it was made from Scrap Meats. I didn’t care, I liked it anyway. I fix those cans of tuna with mayonnaise and sour pickles and eat it with a tube of soda crackers. As you can tell, I like just about everything, even Pizza all doctored-up with lots of onions, salt, and black pepper. …Ken

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    October 24, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I haven’t eaten deviled ham in a long time, but I like it. Maybe I will have to add it to the grocery list.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 24, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    I take my deviled ham in a more formal setting than saltine crackers. I only eat it between Ritz crackers! Not because of the taste of the Ritz especially. Its because Ritz crackers don’t have corners and I can get the whole thing in my mouth at one time.
    When I fix my Underwood’s and crackers I put a dab on each cracker til I run out of the spread. Next I put on a top cracker and press down gently. Then I lick the cracker sandwiches all the way around in case any deviled ham has squirted out. If I am fixing deviled ham crackers for someone else I skip the lick part for the most part and clear it with a case knife (especially if someone could be watching.) About 5% of people will admit to licking the edges like I do. The other 95% are liars.
    PS: There are reasons I eat my crackers whole. First, if I try to bite into them, some of that precious filling will ooze out the other side and might drop on the tablecloth. Second is the matter of crumbs. If I do bite through without the ooze I will probably have to wear cracker crumbs on the front of my tuxedo for the rest of the evening.
    PPS: Maybe I could point out the crumbs to the host and ask “Hey, you got a vacuum cleaner with a hose?”

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Yum, yum!!!! I love that Underwood deviled ham too. I ate it on white bread but I love French’s yellow mustard on mine. It seems to increase the spicy taste. I wonder sometimes, if people in the US ate the way we grew up eating, maybe we would be healthier. When I was a little girl in the 1950’s, we ate three meals a day (all cooked in our momma’s kitchen) and we played outside all day. You rarely ever saw a person overweight or fighting obesity and there didn’t seem to be so much dementia or other bad diseases like there are nowadays. Makes me wonder if all this change in our eating habits are really helpful…..

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve eaten it many times. Can’t anymore due to the salt content. As I’ve said many times the only thing I turn down is my shirt collar but my wife and my doctors limit lots of things now.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    October 24, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Tipper, I love deviled ham, fixed just like you described it. Like most of the other commenters, I also like Vienna sausage and fried bologna. These are the type of sandwiches I grew up eating.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 10:36 am

    It sounds like it’s similar to ham salad…??? If so, I like it.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    October 24, 2016 at 10:04 am

    I always liked deviled ham sandwiches, or on saltines. But then I was a kid who also liked Spam, Vienna Sausages and even the canned meat in army C-rations.
    The American taste for canned food seems to have waned quite a lot, especially for canned meats.

  • Reply
    Margaret Johnson
    October 24, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Love Underwood deviled ham, always a favorite and always have it in my cabinet. I have it with a little mayo on whole wheat bread and sometimes in the summer months when tomatoes are plentiful, I will put a slice of tomato on it as well. I know it’s not healthy, but then neither is fried bologna which I dearly love too. Everything in moderation is my motto!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 24, 2016 at 9:51 am

    We love deviled ham sandwich with mayo and a slice of tomato! I have a recipe for homemade that uses up the leftover pieces from a baked ham–it’s done in the food processor & it’s good but Underwood is my favorite.

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    October 24, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I’ve never eaten deviled ham, but I’ve noticed that Vienna sausages and saltine crackers, while something I’ve never eaten at home, always tasted like delicacies when sitting in a boat.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Yum ! Yes, loved it as a child, it was a rare special treat..the uniqueness of it being wrapped in paper was half the fun ! Felt like SUCH a splurge to just eat it right out of the can !! My Dad loved it too, sure do miss him.. Might have to find some at the store today and introduce it to the grandchildren !..have a great day, love your thought provoking blog.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    October 24, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I have not had it in a very long time. Growing up I would eat it on white bread with a little mayo and black pepper.
    I didn’t really care for it but would eat it if I couldn’t find anything else. A good ole pb&j was and still is my favorite.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Dang! Now I have to go to the Bilo and look for deviled ham this morning. And Bunny bread and dill pickle slices. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 24, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I have not had deviled ham since I was a boy and a young boy at that. It was Underwood and I think we had it several times on picnics. I seem to remember Mom making deviled ham sandwiches when the group she and Dad sang in practiced at the house. But I’m not sure if that is a valid memory. It was so long ago that I have no particular memory of the taste but as best I recall I liked it.
    Your question reminds me of Spam also. Another item I have not had in a great while. I guess the prevalence of grocery delis may have shifted people away from canned meats.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    October 24, 2016 at 8:37 am

    I love Underwood Deviled Ham, I always thought that little can wrapped in twisted paper was something special, like a little present you opened! When I was a kid and we were going on a trip or vacation we would always take along Underwood Deviled Ham, bread and other things. Along the way we would stop at a rest area, find a nice table and fix our sandwiches. Throughout my adult life we have done the same. If we fix Underwood Deviled Ham sandwiches at home I feel like I should be on a trip!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 8:29 am

    This made me really hungry for deviled ham. I could eat it for every meal, and at one time grabbed a can each week with groceries. The only thing that can match it is a sandwich with mayo and slices of fresh garden tomato. Mom used to mix in pickles and mayo and make a sandwich spread. There was also another great sandwich once popular, and that was bologna fried as brown as possible with mayo on bread. I almost forgot Vienna sausage. The good life!. Now I find myself reading labels and avoiding all the really good stuff–boring. That was our fast food before drive-thrus became so popular.
    As always, Tipper, your blog makes me think. Makes me wonder exactly when and why my taste changed from old time favorites. I used to love chicken livers and gizzards fried, and always had pickled pig feet in the frig. Now it seems nobody eats these old favorites, and they are certainly not on display on buffets.

  • Reply
    Barbara Gantt
    October 24, 2016 at 8:15 am

    I love deviled ham. I like it with mayo on saltine crackers too. A good quick lunch is a deviled ham sandwich. I do keep some to use if the power is out. I remember eating it as a child. I also remember tiny sandwiches at parties.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I’ve eaten deviled ham all my life. Also am a fan of the Rose brand potted meat, vienna sausages, and pork brains.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 24, 2016 at 8:12 am

    One more thing to bring back those childhood memories. I always have a few cans in the cupboard Just in case. In case of what I don’t know but it is comforting to know it is there.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 24, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Love it! However I have to tell you I wasn’t allowed to eat it as a child. My mother said it was made from the scraps of the meat processing. She said the same of Vienna sausage and I loved it too. The deviled ham went on white bread with mayo, just like you said. The Vienna sausage went on soda crackers, of course.
    I used to have a cat that loved Vienna sausage. Any time I opened a can she was right there for her share and the liquid!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Is that anything like what we call “ham salad”? I love ham salad, but have only had it from the deli at the grocery store, not out of a can.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    October 24, 2016 at 5:45 am

    I LOVE Underwood deviled ham! I haven’t had it for years and my mouth is watering right now. Gotta go get me some today. I like to add a bit of pickle relish to it along with the mayo. Yum!

  • Reply
    Candy Davis
    October 24, 2016 at 5:44 am

    I love deviled ham. I bought some right before Hurricane Matthew hit to have on hand just in case we lost power. I’m taking a sandwich for lunch today (on wheat, no mayo!). I remember eating it as a child every time a hurricane came!

  • Leave a Reply