Ham Salad

Welcome to the Atlas Obscura Community discussion of Ham Salad. Ask questions or share tips, experiences, pictures, or general comments with the community. For the story behind this food, check out the Atlas Obscura entry:

How is this obscure? I’ve been making this for years! What else do you do with that last bit of the ham?

1 Like

I thought this was purely a Western Pennsylvania thing. My parents made this all the time!

2 Likes

I grew up in Southwestern Michigan and a salad made from ground ring bologna was common. The grocery stores sold a “Sandwich Spread” made by Oscar Mayer which came in a plastic tube. It was made with ground bologna, mayonnaise, sweet pickles and onions. Yum! I now live in Maryland and haven’t seen anything like this in the stores here!

3 Likes

If it is homemade I will eat it, but my experience is that folks at events use canned ham which is way too salty for human consumption as far as I am concerned!

In the Netherlands, grocery stores stock “Beenham salad” already prepared. It’s about 30%-40% ham, mayo, a bit of mustard and sometimes celery, celeric or celery seed. Given that the Amish, Mennonites and Pennsylvania have ties with the Dutch, perhaps there’s a link? Although it’s typical breakfast or lunch spread for your bread, rather than funeral food.

1 Like

My mom made this with either ham or bologna depending on what she had. She also used half hamburg buns with the salad on it, put cheese on it and put it under the broiler,. OMGosh my mouth still waters at the thought of it.

Never had it for a funeral,. I am in MI.

My grandma would make this and there are times I crave it as she’s been gone over 20 years now. Always ham, mayo, relish, mustard, and hard boiled egg, served on Club crackers. She was born and raised third generation Kanasan.

2 Likes

I make ham salad with equal parts ham, sharp cheddar cheese crumbles or shreds, and drained, crushed pineapple, plus a little mayo to hold it together. Yum!

I grew up in central Ohio and my dad and I would make ham salad. We used mostly ham but, would add some bologna or even uncooked hot dogs to stretch it further. Throw in some sweet relish, mayo and just a sprinkling of cherry gelatin powder to give it a nice pink color when mixed in. I still continue to make this and serve it either on white bread or hamburger buns.

My mother is a yooper. She’d take left over hotdogs (she used to boil them) and use those. She managed to make it taste soooo good!

Years ago, the ham spread we bought wasn’t sweet or chunky. I’ve often wondered how ham “salad” surpassed the finer, more savory variation.

I loved Oscar Mayer’s sandwich spread. Was so sorry when they discontinued it.

I grew up in Ohio where ground balogna sandwiches were a special treat on New Year’s Eve. You need to use a good quality balogna with mayo and pickle on party rye. I can’t say I ever had it at a funeral.
Delicatessens around here still make ham salad and we get it once every couple of weeks. When it’s fresh it’s so good, just smokey ham with the bite of pickles to cut through the sweetness. Underwood still makes a ham salad and chicken salad too that I enjoy with crackers.

Sounds like a lot of Michiganders grew up with this type of salad. I grew up in Southern California (Los Angeles County, though ironically I now live in Michigan) and still remember getting excited whenever I saw my mom start setting up the meat grinder. It was one of those old cast iron ones that clamped around the edge of a table or counter, and had a hand crank. She’d feed in baloney slices and sweet pickles, and I was fascinated by watching the little curly bits of the mixture come out the end. She’d mix in mayo and heap it on Wonder bread, with a leaf of crisp iceberg lettuce. That’s all. Simple and perfect. I’m craving one right now.