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Jan 8, 2007 12:49 AM

Is there anything better than Boars Head cold cuts?

In a rather long sandwich thread, someone never heard about Boars Head and asked what was so special about them because people mentioned them so often in the thread.

What is so special about them other than they are not Oscar Meyer and usually fresh cut? Off the top of my head the only thing I can think of is that I associate them with being a better quality than generic deli meat but I can't tell you why.

I never did a taste off between Boars Head and Oscar Meyer or whatever other cold cut might be out there.

I did do a taste off between Boars Head pastrami and some locally made pastramis. It was second to the bottom, the taste being mainly salt.

I do like Boars Head Black forest ham, but again, never compared it to another.

From the website it says they don't use fillers, artificial flavors or colors, by-products or cereals ... so I guess that makes them special.

Very funny picture and recipe for a Dagwood sandwich on the site. I guess it is about presentation.

The Dagwood uses Boars Head bacon which I don't think I've ever tried. Any good?

What about the condiments? Anything especially chow worthy there?

I don't know about the bottled pickles, but if your market ever has a pickle barrel of whole pickles, don't pass these up. They are crispy yet so juicy ... almost succulant if a pickle can be that ... those pickles are reason enough that Boars Head should be in business.

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  1. Agreed -- better than generic as a brand, but not better necessarily than niche products. Our local independent butcher shop opened a year or so ago with a variety of imported deli meats and cheeses and finally had to capitulate to carrying Boar's Head in order to compete with Kroger, Marsh, and O'Malia, even though they are miles ahead of the chains on their other offerings.

    5 Replies
    1. re: grover78

      Boars head brand has very high quality products for being such a large company with broad distributorship. If you have local store that cooks some of their meats in house then they might be able to make a slightly better product, the reason being that they don't have to worry about preserving the meat as much: they can brine turkey with less salt, use literally zero preservatives (besides salt) and don't have to pack their meat in water because all the meat has to do is brine, cook and set in the fridge at wich point it is ready for the deli case. That is literally 72 hrs from raw meat to deli case. Considering it is logistically impossible for Boars Head match that, their products are really freaking impressive.

      Edit: I am 25. I have 10 yrs experience in the food service industry 5 of which are in a full service gourmet deli that has carried boars head and many other brands.

      1. re: deliguy

        The quality is hardly "very High". It is average at best. You even said it yourself that they are a large company and you compare the quality to the size of the company. They have the best marketing, and nice labels. And when you compare them to generic, they are better. Which is why they BUY their way into supermarkets. They BUY their way into stores so they can eliminate any competition. I have a few deli's in my area in Manhattan that carry Boars Head and Thumanns. I only order the Thumanns.

        1. re: buddyboyII

          By no means do I think they are all they're cracked up to be. I just look at what it actually takes to make good deli meat, and what different factors affect taste, freshness and healthyness (not a word but im tired) of the products, as well as draw from my experience having sold and eaten several different brands over the years. Based on that it is my opinion they they make an above average product given wich is impressive given the scale of their business (though a lot of old timers tell me they used to be better). There are a lot of boars head haters on this site, i think some of that is just because they are the big dog on the block now (and because it's a little annoying how powerful their branding is).

          Mind you when i say i've sold many different brands that doesnt mean im comparing BH to oscar meyer and hormel, we're talking apples to apples quality stuff.

          1. re: deliguy

            I'm always happy to see Boars Head come into mainstream grocery stores as it is usually light-years better than better than the typical offerings (which I know well as I spent my college years working at a small midwestern chain grocery.

            That said, there are far better deli meat providers out - like Diestel Turkey, Nieman Ranch etc. I'd say Boar's Head is the OK'est of the OK.

        2. re: deliguy

          I am not really into cold cuts but Boars Head does seem to have a less processed texture to it, especially their turkey products. Locally we have Dietz & Watson which is pretty good but IMHO Boars Head is noticeably better.

      2. I always pick up Boar's Head bacon when I buy supermarket bacon. I've never done a taste test with it but I like it.

        1. BH mustard is very, very good. I believe it has white wine in it that helps make it stand out above the rest. I'm sure they use other quality ingredients in there as well. The taste is great!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Cheese Boy

            Boar's Head Deli Mustard is the best! I grew up with Gulden's, but made the switch when I was old enough to shop on my own...

            1. re: Cheese Boy

              The best thing about the BH mustard is that it uses less vinegar and more ground mustardseed than the usual grocery brands, and costs only slightly more. Over the years, the grocery store brands have been increasing the level of vinegar to give their product more shelf life, until the vinegar is all you can taste. The Boar's Head mustard ( I get the deli-style with white wine, but it also comes w/o the wine) tastes like mustard and doesn't pucker your mouth. It also has a little horseradish in it for extra zing. It can make even the blandest low-fat cheese sandwich taste delicious!

              I wonder if that's actually what people like about their coldcut sandwiches--the mustard!

              1. re: ClearEye

                We love that BH mustard...I bring a bottle out to my son in San Francisco whenever I visit's really the best...AND lower sodium than most prepared mustards in case anyone cares...that's a great plus for our family!

                1. re: Val

                  For years and years, I used a NY mustard that I swore by . Then last year BH gave away a bottle every week with a different cold cut combo. My husband had to call me at work to tell me how good it was first time he tried it, which is highly unusual for him. Luckily my deli sells me a gallon at a time, we really go through mustard and that little jar doesn't even last a week.

            2. I must be in the minority -- I can't stand their products as every single one of their cold cuts taste the same to me (their use of preservatives, perhaps?). I will specifically NOT have a sandwich if all a deli offers is Boar's Head meats.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Carrie 218

                I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels that way, Carrie.

              2. NWORANGE, I suggest you need a point of reference. Contact After trying some of their products, I think you'll find Boar's Head is just barely above Oscar Meyer in quality.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Leper

                  Yeah, I hope I didn't make it sound like I was a fan of Boar's Head. I just would rather buy them instead of Oscar Meyer if that's the choice.

                  I'll go with a house brand if available or something that might be imported. I guess I am wondering about why people do like Boars Head.

                  Thanks to the link to the Batali site.

                  And Carrie, long ago I did do a back-to-back taste test of BH corned beef & pastrami. Couldn't tell the difference.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I think people are brainwashed by Boars Head commercials, think everything else is garbage and that's why they're willing to pay 2 or 3 dollars a lb more. BH doesn't make their own cold cuts, it is made to their specifications at plants that make other brand cold cuts too, and there are plenty of very close imitations that are just as good, especially on a sandwich. Their Ovengold turkey is great, but now everyone has a solid breast of their own so I don't look for it anymore. Deli owners have told me their ham and bologna are the best, I guess they would know but I prefer Farmland ham and Wunderbar/German bologna myself. I will buy Boars Head when it's on sale, but only if it's the same price or cheaper than the generic. Their cheeses seem bland to me. Luckily nobody around here has only Boars Head in their case! They'd love to have a monopoly on deli meats, but it will never happen. Most of their stuff is just too expensive, even for the deli owners. I like Farmland bacon a lot better than Boars Head too, and most delis I know use it (for price as well as quality). I don't think I've ever bought anything Oscar Meyer, I have this weird impression that they have a lot of fillers, but now that I think of it I don't really know.

                    1. re: coll


                      I had to laugh when I saw this post about Wunderbar "German" bologna. It is my absolute favorite bologna... by far! It also happens to be the cheapest stuff ever marketed (it is routinely 99 cents a pound here in the Boston area). I believe it's made by a company called Russer, which also markets other cold cuts as well.

                      I can only imagine what it's made from!

                      I do tend to buy higher end hotdogs (Hebrew National in particular) but are they really worth the extra cost?? Probably not.



                      1. re: gusman2424

                        If you've got a Trader Joe's in the area - they have a great price on Hebrew National - $3.09 in the SF Bay Area, last time I shopped for them, 12/06.

                        1. re: gusman2424

                          Oh, higher end hot dogs are definitely worth the extra cost. Nathan's Natural Casing dogs for one, the Hebrew National's are also good. Cheap hot dogs are nasty, quality dogs (preferably with natural casings) are divine.

                          1. re: gusman2424

                            This is hilarious! You say that wunderbar bologna is cheap and you can only imagine what it's made of. Then you say that your Hebrew national hot dogs are "high end". Hahaha.

                      2. re: Leper

                        Who's gonna spend $33-37 per 2 lb. package of cured meats???
                        This is for rich folks -- get real!!!

                        1. re: KeepinItReal

                          Wecome to Chowhound. It's not really about price, but taste.

                          The problem I have with many of these artisan cold cut/sausage vendors is that even after spending all that money, the stuff isn't that great. For a while I was really ticked at local salami makers who were learning their craft ... most of them not very good ... and charging prices that should mean a tested and true recipe. I don't want to pay for someone's learning curve. Don't sell it until it is ready.

                          I don't mean that the link was to someone like that. At any price I'm unlikely to buy two pounds of cold cuts.

                          So ...$33 breaks down to about $16.50 per pound of something. Yeah, I'd spend about $4 for a 1/4 pound of coldcuts. Heck, a Subway sandwich is $5 ... and that is just garbage.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Thanks for the greeting, RWORANGE.. I've been here for ages, just lurking but I just had to chime-in on the outrageous price of that artisan vendor.

                            I agree wholeheartedly -- how dare they charge top price if they're still learning the craft?
                            It's more proof that young American business has a ugly sense of entitlement that leaves a bad taste in my mouth... nothing like former generations who prided themselves on precision, consistency & value.

                            I am a big fan of APPLEGATE products; the quality is amazing -- Plus it's free of anything unhealthy! When I was a member of Brooklyn's Park Slope Food Co-Op (the oldest in the U.S.) I could afford to buy these items since the price was considerably lower in comparison to regular supermarkets. Too bad the healthiest food is the most expensive in America... maybe more citizens could avoid the need for so much healthcare.

                            Yes, Subway is pretty nasty!

                            1. re: rworange

                              My nephew makes artisanal smoked turkey. He pays the farmer about $100 Can for a 16lb bird. He makes it only for friends and family if he sold it @ 16.50 a lb he would lose $16 a lb thats why an artisanal smoked turkey costs $250.