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World's Worst Products - Canned whole chicken

In a topic on Home Cooking about how to use canned Costco chicken. I was about to post my homage to canned chicken and its versatility when someone asked what to do with canned whole chicken.

I never heard of such a thing and this kind of food insanity appeals to me so I Googled and yes indeed there is such a product ... Sweet Sue Whole Chicken in a Can for use in soups, stews and for quick dinners.

In this link where you can purchase the chicken on-line, there is a picture on the can of a lovely browned bird ... with stuffing ... that your gut feeling tells you isn't what you'll see when you open the can.


This next link on other bad food ideas in addition to whole canned chicken says of the Sweet Sue bird "it's stewed in a quivering mass of aspic goop"


There are some pretty appalling other food products mentioned ... what were they thinking?

Love the Armour Pork Brains in Milk Gravy with over a thousand percent of the daily cholesterol intake.

There are other delights like clam jerky, Rudolph pate and musk life savers.

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  1. I keep waiting for Chef Boy-R-D to put out canned chitlins.

    1 Reply
    1. re: yayadave

      No self-respecting southerner would eat canned chitlins.

    2. I am also very put off by the idea of a whole canned chicken. Especially in light of the fact that they're usually on sale and, at worst, you could just roast one up in an hour. Or, boil one up in even less time.

      But, who knows, maybe there is a particular character to this version. Has anyone tried it?

      11 Replies
      1. re: Bob Brooks

        Yes, I have. It is not wonderful and does not have a great deal of flavor, but .......
        I used to keep one aboard our sailboat for emergencies. When sailing away from land for ten days or more, fresh food stocks get pretty low. Having a chicken on hand can make a difference at mealtime. Because it is packed with so much goo, I found the best use to be a kind of soupy stew, with strong flavorings (ginger or chile). It is especially welcoming on a rainy winter afternoon when you're chilled to the bone.

        With the availability of a real kitchen, I cannot imagine a use for this product other than as emergency rations.

        1. re: Sherri

          I tried one once on an extended camping trip. While I don't have memories of it being horrible, I had no inclination to try it again. Instead I bought whole frozen chickens, let them thaw in the cooler and then cooked them in the pressure cooker.

          I suspect this whole canned chicken came on the market before the deboned, chunk chicken did (60's or earlier), and retains a limited regional following.


          1. re: Sherri

            we used to live aboard, so we kept one of these on hand all the time. (Sweet Sue's Chicken and Dumplings was another standard item in our pantry -- also good on a nasty day)

            I used to keep them in my hurricane rations box.

            They're fine when used in soups, stews, casseroles, or in chicken salad.

            (good lord, just saw how ancient this thread is)

              1. re: hill food

                nah - those cans were used up before we even returned to a shore-based existence.

                (I'm pretty brave, but even I'm not going to eat anything that's 3 decades old....)

          2. re: Bob Brooks

            It's so true. Just take a chicken toss it in a pan, stick it in the oven at some random temperature and in an hour you've got chicken meat. What's the problem?

            1. re: niki rothman

              I've lived in parts of the world where the availabilty of any kind of fresh meat is iffy on any given day, or even any given week. Shredded, canned chicken can be gussied up in many casseroles, and/or ethnic dishes. If you're truly desperate, being a food snob falls by the wayside.

              1. re: pikawicca

                I know this topic is old, but my husband (a former sous chef and definite food snob) loves the canned shredded chicken from Trader Joe's. He makes it into chicken salad with a little mayo, dijon, salt and pepper and then totes the sandwiches to work. I was skeptical, and I don't like it as much as fresh chicken, but it's not horrible. My favorite way to make chickn salad by the way, is from fried chicken (used to do this with KFC when i was a kid). Mix it up, crust and all, with mayo, seasoned salt and some sweet pickle relish. oh my heaven!

            2. re: Bob Brooks

              This seriously made me want to vomit on my keyboard-just had a nice d inner also.

              The canned chicken still has feathers on some part? wtf...yuuuck!

              Canned brains? isn't there some disease you can get from eating pork brains or is that mad cow diease?

              Weirdest food I've tried is hering jerky- it was actually ok exept for very salty and dry...and fishy.

              I keep on seeing tripe? at the grocery store. that stuff that is white,slimy looking and all spongy.
              does anyone every buy that?

              1. re: MiriamOttawa

                Tripe is an excellent vehicle to carry sauces. Sliced and diced in soups it provides a pleasant texture provided you are not grossed out by eating it. Depending on the sheleteredness of your upbringing you may have similar disquietudes with liver, kidney, heart, chicken gizzard, cows hoof, brains, testicles, lung, sweetbreads, tongue and so on. This can to a great extent depend on your ethnicity and culture. And to give an example of this, many North Americans are very happy to eat a sausage made from mechanically scavenged meat stuffed into the membrane from a sheep's or pigs gut. Those same people will not eat haggis (since it is stuffed into a sheep's stomach) or tripe.

                Tripe is fairly tasteless (as is most white fish and squid). But provided you can get your head round it it is a great ingredient in things like curries as the sauces fills and sticks to the cavities.

              2. re: Bob Brooks

                I just discovered this video of Chicken in a Can. You've gotta see ti...


              3. oh my god that is shocking...i think i have to get my hands on one so i can have a live viewing.

                1. I remember this from camping in the '60's. Atrocious! We also got canned bacon and canned chow mein. What was my mother thinking?

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Zydeco_Mama

                    Okay, canned bacon is something that may truly be worthy of "Ewwww!!!" ;-)

                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      No, no, no! Canned bacon (the Danish kind, anyway) is perfectly fine. My aunt used to send me care pacakges of the stuff when I was living in Saudi Arabia years ago. Three years without a BLT would have been dreadful.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        I guess I just can't picture it? I'm picturing ready-to-eat bacon, but that can't be what you're talking about, right?

                    2. re: Zydeco_Mama

                      Your Mom was right on with the canned bacon. I wish I could find it today...

                      1. re: Fog City Kid

                        Fog City and Zydeco, I think you are looking for a product from Denmark, the name was Dak Canned Bacon prevalent in the 60s-70s, and one of my favorites. It was wound around waxed paper and the taste was superb. We would buy that over the bacon in supermarkets because of the rich smoky flavor. Denmark is famous for their bacon and ham products with good reason.

                        Last year I remembered that bacon and went on a quest to find it. I tracked down the original company in Denmark via e-mail (fun trying to communicate in our broken language signals - no arm waving to help us) to learn that Danish Crown had been sold to Plumrose, well known company in this country, and they don't make this product anymore, just the Dak ham in 1# cans you see advertised in the Sunday ads.

                        I spent hours searching this out and was really disappointed to find it no longer is produced. I doubt the camping products, also in cans, have anywhere the flavor but please let me know if you find a good one.

                        1. re: eartha

                          I loved that bacon. I just googled Dak canned bacon and found out thanks to your research that it is no longer available. Darn! What a great survival food.

                        2. re: Fog City Kid

                          google "Internet grocer" they have canned bacon the brand is Yoders canned bacon... and yes katie it is ready to eat strips rolled up in wax paper

                        3. re: Zydeco_Mama

                          Canned bacon!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
                          What the......!!!!!!!!!!!


                          1. re: Zydeco_Mama

                            I agree, the canned bacon was truly nasty!

                            1. re: al b. darned

                              There was a time when the highly touted Consumer's Report rated canned bacon from Poland very high.

                          2. When I worked at a nationally recognized food-service supply company, I was surprised at the varying degrees of quality offered on each type of item while proofreading the catalog. I kept wondering if my favorite local restaurant ordered the "prestige" or the "economy" type of a certain product.

                            Then I found something that stopped me in my tracks:
                            Chicken breast-shaped filets

                            Breast-SHAPED?? As in, what are they really, that you're making them LOOK like chicken breasts?!?

                            Freaked me out, man. . .

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Covert Ops

                              We used to call items like these, a chewed & glued product.

                              1. re: Linnster

                                The first listed ingredient in a Slim Jim is "mechanically separated chicken parts"...

                                1. re: diropstim

                                  "Mechanically separated?" Maybe with a claw-hammer.


                            2. Musk Life Savers (and musk chewing gum) are pretty good!

                              I don't think I've had clam jerky, but I'm fond enough of dried cuttlefish and various other dried and cured sea critters that would expect it's pretty tasty.

                              I confess I haven't eaten brains in a very long time, but if I were to start again, I agree that canned ones from Armour wouldn't be what would entice me. The sauteed calf brains at the Kabab Cafe in Queens, on the other hand...

                              1. I don't think that the bacon was already cooked - if memory serves it was rolled up on something like wax paper.

                                Actually I'm wrong above - just googled canned bacon and found the following "Canned bacon is precooked, needs no refrigeration and is popular with campers." I think that I must have repressed the memory!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Zydeco_Mama

                                  There are so many nitrates and preservatives in bacon--if you make the can airtight I imagine it could keep for awhile. The taste, however, I cannot attest to as I have never had it.

                                  1. re: erikka

                                    And now they don't need 'canned' bacon because they have the vacuum-packed precooked stuff in every supermarket... we keep a few boxes on hand during hurricane season because it doesn't need refrigeration until it's opened, and it's ready to eat. (It's not something I'd buy except for emergencies though, because bacon is so easy to cook yourself!)

                                2. I have not used canned whole chicken myself, but I have eaten it, prepared as chicken and noodles, and it was...well, you couldn't say Bad, not at all. It was more like reasonably edible school cafeteria food. I could see some nostalgic ex-kid hankering for this, as some do for Beanie Weenie or the straight-noodle bright-orange-cheese macaroni dinner in the skinny blue box.

                                  I would however look for a brand other than Sweet Sue. Their chicken broth is always kind of stinky, like they let the birds get good and ripe before they boiled'em down, which put me off all their products forever.

                                  1. Hello all,

                                    I have to say the worst food atrosity I have come across way in the UK.

                                    The tuna over there comes in cans but is pre-mixed with mayo andother additions like curry paste or tomato sauce.

                                    I am not sure about the tuna/mayo in a can.


                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: j2brady

                                      Speaking of the UK, Melton Mowbray Pork Pies are absolutely terrible. The combination of cold lard and pork jelly just doesn't sit well in my mouth.

                                      1. re: cornflower55

                                        You must be kidding they are totally delicious! Now canned haggis on the other hand......

                                      2. re: j2brady

                                        I used to spend quie a bit of time in England, and those cans of tuna were a godsend while without a car, stuck in the middle of nowhere. I recals the lemon flavor was good, the curry tolerable.

                                        1. re: nicki

                                          Nicki, you must not be from Hawaii. I think Spam is the State meat.

                                          But seriously, I went to one of those dented can close-out stores on Maui once and they had at least 4 different flavors of spam, from reduced salt to extra spicy. At least one of those might be worse than a whole canned chicken.

                                          1. re: Jefferson

                                            Don't knock the Tabasco flavored spam until you try! Mmmmm.... :)

                                            1. re: Jefferson

                                              Hawaii does have the highest per capita consumption of spam in the 50 states. There is some debate about some of the pacific island trust territories, but many of them are no longer part of the US. Until I moved here I had never had spam. I now have a few cans in my cupboard at all times. Spam rocks...hahah

                                          2. zydeco_mama, you were right the first time. I remember my mom getting bacon in a can. It was wrapped in some kind of wax paper, and you fried it up. As I recall, it was fine, like regular bacon. I have no idea why we may have been eating it, but knowing my Mom, it was on sale.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jennaroo

                                              A long time ago, Consumer Reports was very high on a canned bacon.

                                              1. re: yayadave

                                                We used to buy it when I was in college in the mid 80's. Need I say it was cheap? However, it was also very good - came raw and wrapped in waxed paper. It used to be available at Kmart and I've looked for it a few times in later years but to no avail. I'd love to have a can in the pantry for those times when I don't have thawed bacon on hand. Too bad it sounds like it is no longer made.

                                            2. Whole canned chicken? Well, that just put my other product name involving chicken into second place in the "worse sounding" category.

                                              I was on a Via train from Windsor to Mississauga and ended up buying one of the prepackaged sandwiches on the train. The sandwich itself wasn't that bad, but I ended up reading the packaging label and noticed the meat of the sandwich was made up of something called "chicken roll".

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: josquared

                                                I want to remind the Board that Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade fame uses canned chicken in a couple of her receipes!

                                              2. I'm going to try this before it dies!

                                                Man, Sauerkraut juice...canned brains...man...shitty.

                                                I need to try these before they go the way of the buffalo.

                                                1. Yes, Sauerkraut is pretty nasty as are those pigs feet things in jars. And usually, any kind of canned meat or fish, except really good crab.


                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: TexasToast

                                                    sauerkraut is a can is a crime against humanity. I am German and love kraut, but the canned variety always has a taste of the can. kraut is very acidic and it should either be fresh, in cryo-vac bags or in glass jars.

                                                    BTW, I find that both canned peas or asparagus is more most vile. Packaged cake frosting is close behind.


                                                    1. re: Kelli2006

                                                      the idea of "fresh" fermented food is funny, but yet, canned sauerkraut is hideous. like mush.

                                                  2. Canned menudo and Hormel canned tamales

                                                    My roommate in college used to eat the tamales. I don't like using the word NEVER, but I've made it this long not digging into either one of these autrocities, so it may be safe to say I never will. They might take away my Mexican card if I do..why chance it?


                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: mamamia

                                                      I remember the canned tamales. You'd open the can and be greeted by all this orange red grease. Each little tamale was wrapped in paper and had corn meal around ground up mystery meat.

                                                      Actually as a person who grew up before Taco Bells and such, things like these and canned chili were my connections to Mexican flavors. It's amazing that I still love Mexican food. Thanks for the memory, I guess.


                                                      1. re: Phoo D

                                                        I do love good Mexican food, and I live where it's readily obtainable and cheap, BUT...one of my Guilty Pleasures is canned tamales with canned chili poured over them. It's NOT Mexican, never was, never will be: it's kind of a Midwestern take on "Texican", and I love it!

                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                          My mother is a TOTALLY Chilanga... Raised in Mexico City, and her deep dark secret is that when she came to the U.S. as a teen, she loved those canned tamales LOL!! She never let me have them though, they are absolulty HORRID health wise...


                                                    2. In Italy I bought Caldo Caldo - sealed little tubs of cold coffee. You pop the bottom and it heats up.

                                                      Had it tasted good, I would've brought back cases of it. LOTSA application in my life - camping, out of milk, on the road at 4AM, whatever. Sadly, it was horrific :-/

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: spigot

                                                        Something like that was available at Target under Wolfgang Puck's brand name. The coffee was watery, and they didn't make it right, so occasionally you got one where the heating chemicals leaked into the coffee.

                                                      2. I've had the canned chicken, back in the early '70s at the end of a too long summer at our then relatively isolated cottage in Canada when the food supplies were running low. It was, frankly, awful, but I think that had something to do with the way my tired-of-kids mother cooked it (boiled as quickly as possible with just some salt, onions and celery as flavouring). Like all canned meats though, I suspect this product goes back to the days before refrigeration, supermarkets, and endless suburbs when a lot of the population had to travel quite a ways to do their marketing and supplies of fresh meat were far from assured.

                                                        Several of the products listed on that "worst convenience foods" site are simply hold overs from the days of a large and less fully assimilated German-American population. Certainly brains (although not of the canned Armour variety) and eggs, were a big treat that my German-American mother made on many Sunday mornings. They included a large dose of milk and were quite yummy actually.

                                                        Sauerkraut juice was something my mother's father used to drink (along with carrot juice) as a morning pick-me-up. Often it was skimmed off of a batch of my grandmother's fermenting sauerkraut, other times it came out of a can. It was purportedly especially good for dealing with hangovers.

                                                        And speaking of hangovers, "blind robins" were a favorite bar snack of both of my grandfathers, one German, one Irish (as were the pickled eggs that are often cited on these same sorts of lists, and yummy pickled sausage). They're a small dried and very salted herring that are called blind robins because the eyes are lost in the drying process, leaving an open socket through which a string is run to hang them over the bar. They were still available in some bars in Detroit when I was a kid, and can still be seen occasioanlly in supermarkets there and, to my surprise, in pubs on the west coast of Ireland. Really yummy. I miss 'em.

                                                        And speaking of drinking foods, the dried clams cited here are just one of several dried seafood Japanese drinking snacks. And pretty damn good ones, if you ask me. Not appreciably different, as mentioned above, from the dried squid/cuttlefish that's also quite popular as accompaniments to beer and other drinks in Japan and all over East Asia. I certainly ate my fair share of this stuff when I lived in Japan.

                                                        Now, if they really want to be shocked they should see what actually goes into scrapple. My grandfather used to make it out on his back porch from his mother's old Pennsylvania German recipie and various leftover pieces of pig garnered from the slaughterhouse. But we would certainly also eat the canned stuff quite often too (is this still produced?). Damn good fried up crisp for breakfast with a little syrup over it.

                                                        What I'm getting at here is that a lot of these foods are not inherently awful and disgusting, but have simply fallen so far out of fashion for various, often demographic, reasons that they now seem freaky to us.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Woodside Al

                                                          you can find scrapple frozen in one supermarket here in Southern MA - my family thinks it's gross, it's a guilty pleasure of mine

                                                        2. Being from Philly, I love Scrapple too! However, my sister in law almost put me off it forever: she calls it "the hairy meat" eeeewwwwwww!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: joan

                                                            Scrapple is a guilty pleasure for me, too. Of course, I'm from Philly. But I have gotten my SoCal hubby to enjoy it on occasion, too. On a roll with ketchup - yum!

                                                          2. Eccles Cakes! They're horrible little things that look like they have flies in them!



                                                            1. Ok Pickled Eggs make me want to spew my guts all over the place, but in my assorted pickled goodies package from amazon.com (i'm serious...just look..and yes I ordered this before I knew that pickled eggs were war crime nasty) they sent me pickled turkey gizzards.....looked like a lab experiment gone horribly wrong.

                                                              Oddly enough I'm fine with just about everything else on this thread....but the gorge is already rising in my throat thinking about pickled eggs.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: inane

                                                                The above post just made me HAVE to have a red beet pickled egg.

                                                                One of the worst canned foods ever are Vienna Sausages, especially cold; canned chicken 'n dumplings, and potted meat food product.

                                                                Cueritos en vinaigre are pretty gross, too. Pickled pork skins.

                                                                I almost forget the truly repulsive, canned Chinese dish called (strangely enough) "Ma-Lin Bran Dough" It looked excreted, not cooked.

                                                                1. re: Anonimo

                                                                  Actually cueritos aren't that bad. They have a similar texture and taste as calamari in vinegar. I ordered a dish from a street vendor and didn't want to back down once I found out it was cueritos. Tasty.

                                                                  I guess I should officially add El Mexican pork chorizo.

                                                                  Eating the cueritos was positivly a joy compared to that chorizo.

                                                                  1. re: Anonimo

                                                                    Oh - beet pickled eggs - yummy! They do look bizarre with that magenta color, but they are excellent!

                                                                    And ew - "potted meat product". There goes my appetite again!

                                                                    1. re: Anonimo

                                                                      Stop it. Are you serious? There's really a Chinese dish named that?!

                                                                  2. When I lived in NYC as a $20k-a-year editorial assistant, my greatest moment of clarity was when I was slicing store-brand canned tiny white potatoes and thinking, "Hmm. I can actually save four of these for tomorrow and save some money."

                                                                    Canned white potatoes were fried, sauteed, chili powdered, peppered, garlicked, every possible version, and now I'm amazed I ever choked them down. So nice to be able to spend money on real food.

                                                                    1. A very funny site about food one should not put in ones mouth.


                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ligature

                                                                        Thanks for posting this - it's to be seen to be believed. Arrgh.

                                                                        1. re: ligature

                                                                          Oh wow, I'm bookmarking that guy.
                                                                          Then I'm going to eat a chili dog.
                                                                          A milk shake.
                                                                          And then go on a roller coaster.


                                                                        2. I think those canned hams that are found around the holiday season are pretty gross. They're loaded with salt and are floating in jelly. Texture wise, the ham is rubbery.

                                                                          1. In the U.K. Heinz is field testing instant beans on toast.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: amkirkland

                                                                              What do you mean? Is it like a pop tart, with the beans already on the toast and you just open it up and eat it?


                                                                              1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                I had to do a little research to actually find out, and it appears to be beans between two pieces of bread (this is unorthodox right?) designed to be toasted. I envision either burnt toast with cold beans (prepared by toaster) or lava hot beans (a la microwave burrito) in soggy bread (prepared by microwave). I don't have much room to criticize it, as i've never had beans on toast myself. Oddly, Though I could remedy that with a simple trip to the cupboard, I have very little desire to.

                                                                              2. re: amkirkland

                                                                                Do they make alka-seltzer for eyeballs? Because I need some after reading that!

                                                                              3. Nothing wrong with it.I had some Armour cooking pamphlets from the 1920s and they had a canned chicken as well,and offered suggestions on how to use it.The gooy stuff is gelatin,and won't hurt you.We have in the past bought Armour canned ham or or quality canned ham and dressed it up with brown sugar and pineapple juice and basted it with 7UP.
                                                                                And I have also used the canned white potatoes as well to roast with meat loaf.
                                                                                By the way,in a couple of old cookbooks I have, they have a recipe for a bean sandwich.

                                                                                1. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest most all Campbell's soup qualifies - ridiculously high salt content, low flavor, disgusting texture. Likewise most products from Knorr fall in the same category. What a total waste of market shelf space.
                                                                                  These companies should merge to form SaltFud, Inc.
                                                                                  My dad loved Spam but I don't see the point - I can get decent cooked ham cheaper.
                                                                                  The only meat-in-a-can product that I can stand is beef chili (emergency fix only). Gawd save us from turkey chili.

                                                                                  1. I just saw an ad for a hot dog w/ bun in a plastic wrapper made for the microwave... it left me speechless... but then again I'm not a parent, so maybe it's a blessing.

                                                                                    1. We once had a canned haggis in the cupboard--not sure what my Scottish mother was thinking!But it never appeared on our dinner table and I don't know where it went.
                                                                                      Re : the canned potatoes--they tast pretty good fried up in a little butter when you are camping!

                                                                                      1. Someone mentioned it above... canned menudo. If you've every cooked it you know that within ten minutes your entire enclosed building will smell like steaming chewing tobacco spittle. (Let it be clear I enjoy restaurant menudo).

                                                                                        The microwave prime rib is a waste of money, too.

                                                                                        1. Having read this thread (fortunately before eating lunch), I think I know where The Simpsons writers got their ideas for corn nog, creamed eels, and wadded beef.

                                                                                          1. "Gyro" meat that doesn't come off a spit. I'm talking about the stuff you can buy in some salad/deli counters in grocery stores. I've been to three takeout joints so far that have thrown out their Kronos gyro machines in favor of this stuff. It's like uniform strips of balogna dyed grey with flecks of... of... something in it. This is the stuff they give Greek prisoners of war to make them go insane. Kinda like turkey bacon, except from hell. It doesn't taste like anything. I think they use the stuff to absorbe excess griddle grease, kind of a cleaning mechanism that they can then sell on a pita. Bewildering. Why does this stuff exist? If you can't make money selling real gyros, don't sell them at all.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                                You've obviously never had "Smart Bacon." Turkey bacon may be from hell but fake bacon is from a deeper Ring of Hell, right there between unbaptized children and purjurors. Slightly worse than Beggin' Strips for dogs (don't ask how I know that).


                                                                                            1. microwave popcorn with the carcinogenic 'butter' oh, yeah, and the pork brains in milk gravy for sure

                                                                                              1. Hey... don't knock Sweet Sue. I ate plenty of it this last Spring while in Canada on a boat in the middle of NOWHERE! When there is nothing to eat and you are looking for warm, filling and easy Sweet Sue is HEAVEN. I ate it as a kid and would probably eat it at home if I could not cook. I deplore the stench of corned beef hash from a can. It freaks me out that my husband likes it. He cooks it when we camp sometimes... I leave for a hike or I might puke. Really. I gag. Thankfully he loves Sweet Sue.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Wanda Fuca

                                                                                                  we were once stranded for a day on the wrong side of a washed-out road after a flood in New Mexico with no food but a can of Sweet Sue chicken, some canned chili mac and some crackers. Boy did it taste good. I think that was when i became a chowhound...

                                                                                                2. Hey also, has anyone seen some of the things Eastern Bloc countries package up in cans and jars? Russians have scary things. Something wretched called "Biche" or something like that. Hungarians eat this canned eggs awash in pig's blood. I am not lying. They also can something called "P'ticha". I think it is meat parts in jelly. It smells rancid. Then there is Marmite. I think it is England's version of Aussie Vegemite. I may be wrong. I know some brits who go to great lengths to get that stuff. Retched.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Wanda Fuca

                                                                                                    My mom used to make pitcha. Boiled calves feet chilled to make a jelly laced heavily with garlic. I couldn't look at it.

                                                                                                  2. We moved to Japan when I was four, a few years after WWII, and, as we were not military or diplomat, had much trouble getting ANY fresh meat. Whole canned chicken, Spam-only one variety, vienna sausages, chipped beef, pork & beans, etc., were all we could find in the markets. The fish type things available in the local markets usually had three or four eyes and other very strange parts, nothing like the fish markets we have in the US. So for the next four + years, almost every type of protein we ate was from a can. Sometimes friends would bring us meat, chicken, and eggs from the PX, however, their food-purchasing was closely monitored to avoid black market activity. There are techniques one can use to make some canned foods taste better, but they will always have that "canned" taste. My early years were quite taste deprived so I was not much interested in food. Fortunately, I eventually moved to California (thank the spirits!!!) however, I still like Spam and chipped beef.

                                                                                                    1. I used to work at a factory that made canned chicken along with a host of other things. Worked as a night shift meat defroster. I pride myself on being willing to try most anything once, but canned chicken (and turkey loaf) are things I will avoid, thank you.

                                                                                                      1. Way back before food stamps, the Feds used to have food give aways from their excess storage - guess they were emptying out the air raid shelters... but once, beside big blocks of really orange cheese, they handed out canned whole chickens and canned bread back in NYC in the 70's.
                                                                                                        And canned whole chickens do date back to before WWII, when refrigeration was rare, and Presidential Candidates promised a chicken in every pot.

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: jimtak

                                                                                                          Ah, canned bread. I was wondering when someone would mention that. It is baked right in the can!!! My husband and I tried it once and it was HORRIBLE!!!!! And i have to agree with someone above...pickled pigs feet are nasty...they are more gristle than anything else!

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshinedrop

                                                                                                            Is this canned white bread? The only canned bread I know is steamed Boston Brown Bread. Not bad spread with cream cheese.

                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                              B&M Boston Brown Bread...Yum!! Great with baked beans (B&M of course) and franks.

                                                                                                        2. Dempster's Morning Mates... why bother? There are fresh bagels available on almost every street corner.


                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: jamsy

                                                                                                            Um ... maybe where YOU live fresh bagels are available on almost every corner, but around here, a "fresh" bagel is one you defrosted yesterday. :-(

                                                                                                            1. re: mclaugh

                                                                                                              lol... I meant to say fresher... even the bagels at the corner deli or at the coffee shop has got to be fresher. These things have a 2 month expiry! I prefer ones out of the freezer to one of these.

                                                                                                              1. re: jamsy

                                                                                                                I went to school in Dallas for 3 years. They had round bread that they called bagels, some with blueberry type of nuggets. On one trip home I bought out a bagel store the night before retuning to Dallas. Packed the 70 or so bagels in a large cardboard box and checked it as baggage. Shared most with classmates the next day but froze a dozen or so to be rationed out to myself, one per week.

                                                                                                            2. re: jamsy

                                                                                                              My used-to-live-in-Queens sister claims that Ray's bagels from the Publix freezer case are closer to real than any fresh bagel she's tried since moving to the Southeast.

                                                                                                              As for the canned whole chicken, I guess in theory you could have one in the box of emergency hurricane supplies, but personally I'd find the National Guard-issued MREs a little less scary.

                                                                                                            3. Canned Turkey Roll is served daily in most jails and prisons around the country.

                                                                                                              On Sundays they give you twice as much and serve it hot.

                                                                                                              1. From my mom's Appalachian roots -- pickled pig's feet, and the UK (will they let me write this?) Spotted Dick.

                                                                                                                1. I've never tried it, but I see at 99 Ranch they have canned shark's fin soup for like $5 a can. Now this is pretty expensive for a can of soup, but it strikes me as wayyy too cheap for shark's fin soup. Is this stuff edible, or ungodly? I've never had shark's fin soup, and had almost purchased this before, but then I thought, "should my first time having this be out of a can?" and put it back on the shelf. Did I make the right call?

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                                                                                                                  1. re: Ozumo

                                                                                                                    Elephant Omelet, the 1968 Republican convention & Craig Clairborne

                                                                                                                    That shark skin soup reminded me ... long ago when Gimbel's still existed and was across the street from Macy's in Manhattan ... reference point ... Macy's had a gourmet section and one time I saw ... for real ... canned elephant ... NO ... it was a normal size can ... just some canned elephant meat.

                                                                                                                    Not being a Chowhound at the time, I didn't buy it.

                                                                                                                    Don't know why, it left me with the impression it might be spongy. Besides, it was pre-internet days ... where was I gonna get a recipe for elephant ... do I mix it with mayo and make elephant salad on white?

                                                                                                                    Of course, since I've gotten a bit more adventurous and broadened my culinary horizons ... I suppose canned elephant is a politically and culinary incorrect dish. If you're gonna eat elephant it better be fresh, farm-raised and NOT canned.

                                                                                                                    Just so people don't think I'm eating mushrooms of the mind-altering type ... here's some references to canned elephant ... what elephant tastes like and a story that canned elephant omelets were served at the Republican national convention

                                                                                                                    From the above link "“the feet, thus cooked [in a pit] are excellent, as is also the trunk, which very much resembles buffalo’s tongue.”

                                                                                                                    Yeah, I'll keep an eye out for buffalo tongue. Someone else called elephant gravy "like an aqueous solution of aloes" ... in other words, didn't care for it.

                                                                                                                    On this site, there's an interview with the restaurant owner that made the elephant meat omelet ... actually 1968 ... the can bought at Bloomingdales, BTW ... I am NOT halucinating.

                                                                                                                    The lady's name is Maida Heatter and she says ...

                                                                                                                    "So I called my daughter who lived in New York and I said, "Would you go to Bloomingdale's and see if they have canned elephant meat ... she went and they did and she sent me a can and it was delicious!"

                                                                                                                    She says it was like beef stew ... canned by a New Jersey company ... I mean where'd they get this stuff ... the Bronx Zoo?

                                                                                                                    Anyway, she talks to the company selling canned elephant meat ... it is not exactly flying off the shelves.

                                                                                                                    OK, this gets better ...

                                                                                                                    She decides to call the chef of a restaurant owned by William Holden ... the restaurant is in Kenya ... and asks how to cook the elephant.

                                                                                                                    To cover all bases she contacts the chef of the explorer's club and asks how HE would prepare an elephant omelete.

                                                                                                                    Walter Cronkite sends a camera crew. She gets a call from Craig Claiburne. Craig's not interested in the convention one bit, but if she will give him an interview, he's there for the elephant. So he flies to Miami for the elephant omelet.

                                                                                                                    When he walks into the restaurant, he also sees the desserts she has made (not out of elephant). He's impressed and tells her she should write a cookbook. She figures Craig doesn't tell everyone to write a cookbook, so she writes the book.

                                                                                                                    And that was the question she was first asked ... how did you come to write a dessert cookbook ... it started with an elephant omelete.

                                                                                                                    Great read. I'd loved to have met that woman.

                                                                                                                  2. When I lived in Portland I volunteered at an emergency food program. They had a "Shelf of Infamy" where they put things people had donated but which they could not in good conscience give out in food boxes. Most of the stuff up there was just really old (boxes of jello with labels that looked like they were from the 1950s, for instance), but there was also some stuff that we thought was just plain weird, like a can of "cuttlefish in spicy sauce." Weird thing was that a woman came in once, wandered back to the kitchen (she wasn't supposed to be there; it was too small a space to have anyone besides us in there when we were trying to work) and saw that can of "cuttlefish in spicy sauce," and asked me, "Can I have this?" We let her. It evidently didn't do her any long-term damage, because that wasn't the last time I ever saw her.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                      My mother-in-law makes a quickie version of "Arroz con Calamares" using the canned cuttlefish. When I first heard of this, I immediately thought it was going to be horribly bad. It wasn't. As a matter of fact, it was pretty good. I'm sure that the overall preparation and spices had something to do with this also. My mom makes a similar rice but entirely from scratch. I do think mom's version is better, but I don't completely turn my nose down on the prep using the canned stuff.

                                                                                                                    2. Gefilte fish in a jar - looked like something from my high school biology classroom.

                                                                                                                      And back off the brown bread in a can - that's one of my "confess" foods... love that stuff.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Rabbit

                                                                                                                        me too...that boston brown bread is awesome. just faintly sweet.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Rabbit

                                                                                                                          Gefilte in a jar is the perfect foil for freshly grated horseradish. All protein and trace fat.

                                                                                                                        2. My experience with the canned chicken was in Girl Scouts. It was in our stock of provisions and was used to make a dish called "chicken pillau"...which the younger campers dubbed "chicken polluted". I remember it coming out of the can looking like one of those fetuses we saw at the Natural History Museum. Good thing being in the "great outdoors" makes everything taste better.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: mke2lax

                                                                                                                            I think I use canned chicken once. Tried to use it for chicken salad, by the end it was a glop of chicken paste. YUK.
                                                                                                                            The one canned Item that a I will confess to, corned beef. At least some brands, I dump onions, garlic, and fresh jalapenos, and then fry to get it crisp. Eaten with Pico Pica Sauce. I don't eat it but may be once a year, and I don't want to know how many calories or the fat content. I am sure it is off the chart.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                              chef chicklet, if you have a George Foreman grill, try cooking canned corned beef on it. Just scoop out the whole can and squash it into a patty between the grilling plates. The result is crispy and tasty, and you will drain a horrendous amount of oil out of the hash.

                                                                                                                          2. This is a Great product, made in the USA, shelf life **years**. In this economy having a few items like this on the shelf may allow you to keep other items in your freezer. There is a recipe on the can for chicken and dumplings that is very good. Chicken, water[broth], salt, thats it. Fully cooked, make chicken pot pies, chicken salad, chicken soup, chicken and rice. NO chance at BBQ chicken though. This does need some seasoning. Guess what? IT TASTES like chicken.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: Bigray60

                                                                                                                              Haven't seen those on the shelves for years, thought they might have become extinct.

                                                                                                                            2. Has anyone ever had ready-made, packaged Peking duck? (It comes flattened like a loaf of bread.) I was in Beijing a while back and saw it at the grocery store. For some inexplicable reason I was moved to try it. It tasted very much like salted plastic with kerosene.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: cimui

                                                                                                                                mmm salted plastic...

                                                                                                                                I'd forgotten about canned whole chicken, Mom used it once on a camping trip in the early 70's -
                                                                                                                                1. I was amazed how it slid off the bone and
                                                                                                                                2. I had never realized that chicken wasn't usually pink after cooking.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cimui

                                                                                                                                  was it real duck? i've seen the vegetarian versions of that while at Chuchai in Montreal.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                                                    yes -- it would've been a lot better had it been the vegetarian version! i actually have tried canned veggie "duck" and found it nominally edible (tho it pales in comparison to the freshly made mock duck with tender, fragrant mushrooms and textured layers of tofu sheets, all nicely al dente).

                                                                                                                                2. In Shenyang, China in 2002, I would sometimes eat these things that I think were called "Tolyburgers" (I'm probably wrong about the name, as Google isn't coming up with anything). I'm not sure if they were sold anywhere else in China, and I'm not sure if they're sold in Shenyang anymore.

                                                                                                                                  They were sold in grocery stores and convenience stores and were kept out on the shelf, unrefrigerated. I think they came in pork, chicken, and beef varieties. They consisted of meat, mayo, and what seemed to be pickled cabbage (but could also been lettuce that had wilted to a sauerkraut consistency), all on a bun that was wrapped in saran wrap and then in a paper bag.

                                                                                                                                  If you got them at the convenience store (Civic Moon), they would heat it for you in the microwave. I actually don't remember them being that bad. Hot sauce really helped.

                                                                                                                                  Alas, my Chinese quickly improved to the point where I could find other post-bar things to eat that didn't involve what seemed to be certain food poisoning.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Condimentality

                                                                                                                                    that should probably be on the toe-curling junk food thread, but y'know? I'd try a Tolyburger.

                                                                                                                                    heck I've had Arby's and lived.

                                                                                                                                  2. The most disgusting canned thing I have seen is Potted Meat. My best friends mom used to eat it all the time straight from the can........ICK. It looks and smells like canned cat food. See pic below.



                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: phimoez

                                                                                                                                      Isn't that just Spam in another can?

                                                                                                                                    2. rworange, you just gave me a throwback to my childhood. I remember my mother, who cooked whole chickens all the time, buying these cans of whole chickens. AND I remember eating and liking them, then again, i was a sucker for salt as a child. I also remember it being really tender.

                                                                                                                                      BTW, I also grew up eating canned whole, full grown corn on the cob....which also seems to elicit weird looks from people when I ask them where to get it. It's a comfort food thing for me.

                                                                                                                                      1. Canned bacon that my uncle would bring on camping trips. I think it was purchased from K-mart. Just horrible stuff. I doub that one could even use it as bait for catfish and they'll bit on anything.


                                                                                                                                        1. On a trip to Scotland, many years ago, I ran across canned Haggiss (Sp?). The real thing sounds disgusting enough (sheep stomach stuffed w/ oats and various sheepy bits), but the canned? Can you imagine?! I had to buy it and it made the rounds as a gag (!) gift for several years of un-adulterated horror. Adam

                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                                                            "Canned Haggis!" That gets the ultimate "Ew-w-w. You win. Game over.


                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                              There's actually a band named Canned Haggis, I believe. :-D

                                                                                                                                              1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                                                                Not only is there tinned Haggis, there is even tinned vegetarian Haggis (yes, the oats and spices, obviously no sheepy bits). A vegetarian friend from Scotland actually bought some after I told him I'd seen it as a gourmet food shop. It is surprisingly palatable.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                                                                  For some reason, this thread reminds me of the article about a product called Mr. Brains Faggots (a meatball made from liver and pork). Apparently, the Doody Family is their chief spokesmen.


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: stricken

                                                                                                                                                    maybe it's better canned...

                                                                                                                                                    how do you like your lung? I don't have an answer.

                                                                                                                                                  2. This post brought back a memory that gave me a giggle a few years ago. I was watching a friend's children. My friend was a very busy woman. I knew she didn't cook much, but didn't understand how little, until this incident happened. I was preparing a fresh, whole chicken to cook for supper. My friend's daughter came into the kitchen. Her eyes were wide with interest. "What is THAT!?" I told her it was a chicken. "Really!!???...Our chicken always comes out of a can!!!"

                                                                                                                                                    1. I worked at a flourishing business on the edge of the low-rent district,
                                                                                                                                                      where many retirees lived. Browsing through a grocery that catered to both neighborhood clienteles, I ran across little cans of mackerel in tomato sauce. I (seriously) felt very sad for people spending their later years eating stuff like that.

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                                                                                                        My ex loved stuff like that. He considered canned mackerel...all kinds of canned fish, a treat...the fishier, the better. I hated even the smell. But to each his own.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: southerngal

                                                                                                                                                          I love canned mackerel too. Much better in macaroni & cheese than tuna. Also makes my little dog mad with desire for leftovers, lol.

                                                                                                                                                      2. In another thread, someone posted this link to a blog with step by step pictures in all their gory detail of whole canned chicken from can to dinner plate

                                                                                                                                                        There's even a link at the bottom where you can order a case of canned whole chicken online. ... though why anyone would do that after seeing the photos is beyond me, especially with the conclusion ....

                                                                                                                                                        "And the taste? There really wasn’t any. The white meat was a bit more cottony than the dark meat, but it all tasted like all the flavor had been cooked out. Sort of like the little bits of chicken in condensed chicken noodle soup ... I am going to strip the meat and put it out for the neighborhood cats"

                                                                                                                                                        Even worse is a link at the top for pork brains in milk gravy

                                                                                                                                                        "The smell that came out of the can was like ground up vienna sausages mixed with particularly strong canned dog food. The cheap kind, not the kind that is better than what most people eat"

                                                                                                                                                        1. I found this thread searching on chicken and dumplings, while I luxuriated in my bowl of sweet sue carbs. I confess to a real fondness for some of this stuff. And the joy of cooking chapter (lunch, brunch and supper dishes IIRC) consisting entirely of canned or otherwise ready-made food combos, is my favorite cookbook segment ever. I mean, mixing condensed tomato soup with liverwurst!! what's not to love about that, I ask you. :)

                                                                                                                                                          In addition to Sweet Sue Chicken and Dumplings, I've got a soft spot for Hormel canned tamales, canned corned beef, Campbells Pepper pot soup, among other salty, bad for me canned products. I don't eat fast food, but I guess this is my version.
                                                                                                                                                          While I have never bought the whole canned chicken I have been eyeing this product with interest, today might be the day! I did recently suffer a defeat at the hands of potted meat product, it was the wierdly gritty texture that upset me more than the flavor. Also some interesting-looking but (to me) unimagineably vile-tasting preserved tofu I recently tried.

                                                                                                                                                          BTW, mother didn't feed me these things, with the exception of canned corned beef (one small can hashed with a LOT of potatoes was a regular end of the month dinner).

                                                                                                                                                          Currently I want canned shad roe and cannot find it. I think I became aware of this possibility due to my wonderful Louella Shouer cookbook Easy Recipes for Two. This is a great book and has a super chapter for cooking on a hot plate with only one burner

                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Teague

                                                                                                                                                            Hormel makes a Roast Turkey Spam. How is that any different from Boneless Turkey in a Can?

                                                                                                                                                            It's like the Monty Python skit about Crunchy Frog chocolates.

                                                                                                                                                            "You mean you don't even take the bones out of it?"

                                                                                                                                                            "If we took the bones out, it wouldnt' be crunchy, would it?"

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                              Big favorite in the dorms in the early 70's. Pour into popcorn popper, get rid of most of the bones, add a can of green beans and heat. Eat the soup, add BBQ sauce, Heinz or Kraft, to remaining meat and put on white sliced bread from the cafeteria. A weekend feast.

                                                                                                                                                              The student from Iran was not happy when he opened the can with the fried chicken on the label and found nothing but grease. And really got mad when he found out it was lard.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                I've never seen roast turkey spam, but I've often seen chicken loaf similar to spam. Some of this targets Halal and Kosher markets.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Back in the late 1970s, there was a short-lived "generic" fad of no frills packaged foods sold in plain black-and-white boxes and can labels. One of my more indelible memories was small can of "Potted Meat Food Product" with the first two ingredients listed as beef lips and pork snouts. I don't recall anything else as I probably yorked right there on the spot. However, I'm sure there were multiple additives to enhance the flavor, deaden the slime factor and add to its thousand year fallout shelter shelf life.

                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                                                                                                My personal (non) favorites were the jug wines labeled WHITE, RED, PINK. I used to buy them just for the hoot they provided our guests.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                                                                                  generic canned goods (including beer) were a noticeable element of the production design in the 80's movie 'Repo Man'.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                                                                                                  I hear it's mostly snouts and peckers...mmmm-hmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                                                                                                    Here in the seventies it was yellow and black labels. I also had a similar experience with Vienna sausages. I should never have read the label. I cannot eat them anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. How about garlic dishwashing soap? I wrote about it on my blog, along with chocolate cheese. Both of these joys to the...Sinophiles world are c/o China.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Remember the MASH episode where Charles and Margaret get food poisoning from his canned poultry? i forget if it was pheasant or squab but it was definitely a bird. They eat it with their hands too and Margaret thinks it tastes a little off.