HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >



Folks, As a old time Deli man, I was born and raised on Boars Head only Deli cold cuts. However that was growing up in Brooklyn, NY. When I later moved to NJ, it seemed that their Deli Cold cuts of choice was Thumman's.

So my new fine feathered friends, I ask you all to tell me in your honest opinion what you think is the superior Deli meats cold cuts. Is it Boars Head?.....is it Thummans?

Black Bear?

Jack N Jill?

What other brands are there?

Oh and finally, How do the pre packaged Hormel Deli Meats Natural Choice compare to the fresh deli sliced cold cuts like Boars Head?

thanks all!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thummans Pear Shaped Ham for sure - much better than Boars Head hands down. This has been a known fact in many deli's in the NY metro area. But I understand that Boars Head often would not let another brand in so reluctantly many used Boar's Head hams instead since their other products were superior. Also, Boards Head has lost something with its mass distribution into the supermarket world - maybe it is the mass produced concept now - more fill added - it just doesn't taste the same like it used to or maybe the packaging is different for a longer shelf life

    Black Bear - best American cheese around - the way Land of Lakes Used to taste before they changed the packaging so you couldn't see the different consistency of the product - which now tastes like silicon/rubber from the creamy milk taste it had over five years ago or so. Also I live in the Washington DC area where you cannot get that brand - But their deli meats may give Boar's Head a run for their money nowadays too

    Cooper sharp process American - Relatively new deli cheese in the last five years or so on the East Coast at least that is much better than most of the americans offered today

    Karl Ehmer - small deli provisioning company - best tasting german bologna - like deli meats used to taste - There was a deli in Southampton, NY that carried their meats exclusively. Reminded me of the German Butcher shops which used to make their own deli meats

    Molinari from San Franciso - Real salami with peppercorns in it - many deli's and gourmet shops now carry that brand

    Balducci's has a wonderful store roasted turkey breast, virginia baked ham and roast beef in their DC and I assume in all stores? that would remind you of what you used to find in the family owned delis which prevailed from the 50's through the 80's in the NY metro area

    Dietz and Watson - not bad if very fresh - awful if the product doesn't move quickly in the deli department of a grocery store which is often the case in the DC area

    Applegate Farms Turkey and Chicken Products if sliced fresh in Whole Foods deli department - excellent - however only a 2 best 3 day frig life at home at best. Their turkey bologna if sliced fresh is good for a low-fat version of the real thing

    Jambon and Madrange - Great Ham imports from France/Canada that has grown in mass popularity and can be found in a lot of upscale gourmet shops and grocery stores

    Packaged stuff - only Citerrio 1/2 lb packages and the Shaller and Weber liverwurst tubes you see see in Grocery Stores are worth consumming in my opinion

    Liverwurst - Haven't found a good one in a deli since Shickhaus went out of business a few year's back - Wegman's gets a good one in from somewhere up NY State

    Finlandia - Muenster and Swiss sliced fresh are great but hard to find anymore other than the pre-sliced

    Emanthaler Swiss - Still the king of Swiss cheeses for a deli sandwhich

    And don't foget Kaiser rolls, real Jewish Rye, a good barrell dill pickel, a side of thin sliced potato salad (cold german preferably) or cole slaw, a few good quality potato chips and one of the following: Hellmans mayo, guldens, gray poupon, or a great house made russsian

    4 Replies
    1. re: ficelle

      YES!!...now yer talkin!!

      good list

      How does the pre packaged Hormel Deli Naturals compare ....I like the fact that they are sliced and sealed in those resealable zip locks so I can make them for my kids for lunch very easily in the morning without a hasstle but am worried that these meats arent as pure as the Thummans and Boar's Head cold cuts that you get sliced up in front of you

      Maybe Im wrong?

      1. re: Darkfudge

        Just try to use a deli with a lot of business. Even fresh cut in front of you might be from a hunk of meat that's been in the deli case for months.

        I worked at a generic supermarket deli while in school.

      2. re: ficelle

        Freybe is my favorite, though I don't know if they are sold much outside of British Columbia and Washington.

        1. re: ficelle

          Good lord ....! I bet the poster didn't see THAT coming! Now I need a midnight sandwich ...

        2. I live in New Jersey where the big three are Boars Head, Thumann's, and Dietz and Watson. Many people don't know that the Black Bear line of products is produced for Shop Rite by Dietz and Watson.

          My preference is Thumann's. In fact, I know 2 people who used to work for Boars Head, but now work for Thumann's. Both have told me Thumann's is much better as far as quality and quality control. A woman working in a supermarket told me that she has gotten complaints about Boars Head meats, but never Thumann's. I've also been told that Thumann's roast beef has never lost a taste test to Boars Head. I love frankfurters and no one makes a better German style pork and beef hot dog than Thumann's. The pork comes right off of their hams. Boars Head makes one of the best beef hot dogs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hotdoglover

            I have to second that Thumann's has the best deli roast beef I've ever had. I won't order any other brand. It's always perfectly pink and doesn't have that strange marinade taste that so many have. On the other hand, I like Boars Head ham the best.

            I'd love to hear a good suggestion of a dry deli turkey breast. I always find lunchmeat turkey to be too wet for my taste.

          2. Heck, you guys are lucky. Up until about 10 years ago or so all we could get in S/W Ohio was cold cuts made by Kahn's out of Cincinnati (and Kahn's is really lousy). You would think that a town with a big German heritage and is known as 'Porkopolis', that they would be able to make a good cold cut. Thank goodness you can now find both Boar's Head and Thurman's in Dayton, Ohio.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jackrugby

              Hey Jack-

              Where in Dayton can you get Thurman's? I'm in Butler County and Jungle Jim's is Boar's Head Country. Would like to try the famous Thurman's, especially if their hot dogs are also available.


              1. re: kaitak98

                Arrow Wine used to carry them, but I just called and they don't carry any cold cuts now. There is a real small store in Butler Twp. (Montgomery County) called the Little Store, I just called them and they still carry Thurman's. Their address is 7325 Peters Pike and their number is 937-890-8858. It is a real little store, but they carry a good selection of wines and beers besides the cold cuts.

            2. I just consumed a very tasty mesquite turkey, bavarian ham, hard salami and extra hot pepper cheese sandwich, all by Dietz and Watson. I love em'. Never slimy! ( I also smushed salt and pepper kettle chips in there too!)

              1. Of the pre-packaged deli meats, the only ones I find edible are the smoked turkey and ham varieties. The regular turkey and beef options just taste too processed. The only pre-packaged deli meat that I buy with any regularity is Danola sliced ham.

                1. Well...there's one good thing about the proliferation of Boar's Head; though they aren't as good as they used to be when they were a smaller operation, their roast beef tastes of beef and not "beef spices."

                  I gotta add...until I moved to the Midwest I'd never encountered pre-sliced (in the deli case) cold cuts. What the hell? I don't want some supposedly-efficacious, sittin' around who knows how long, sliced to someone else's idea of "thinness," meat. I want it sliced fresh and to my specifications. Which is why local supermarkets don't get my business at the deli counter more often than not; I've had workers actually argue with me because I want my cold cuts sliced fresh. Whatever.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: aelph

                    folks, how is the HORMEL Natural line of pre packaged Deli Meats?

                    I read some good things on their website about it

                    And WOW....I didnt know that Boars Head now took a back seat to Thummans!

                    What NJ Supermarkets carry Thummans Cold cuts?

                    1. re: aelph

                      Welcome to the Midwest, here in S/W Ohio they believe cold cuts should be sliced thick, or thicker than what I like. When you ask them to slice it thin, you usually have to ask a second time to get it to the desired thin-ness. They either want to slice it thick or 'shaved'.

                      1. re: jackrugby

                        Which is why I ask to see a slice...not a problem elsewhere in the country, but risks an eyeball roll when I order that way in Indiana.

                    2. Jennie-O sundried tomato turkey breast in the deli counter is VERY tasty....also a bit pricey at about 6.49/lb....give it a try! Not sure who all carrys them, but our local Super Walmart has it

                      1. Are you talking about fine Deli Meats or Mainstream? I don't think we can begin to compare Boar's Head or any other mainstream Deli Meat to things like Pata Negra, true Prosciutto di Parma & fine Black Forest hams etc.,

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                          Mainstream deli meats, obviously. No one in his right mind would preslice fine cured meats or buy them pre-sliced.

                        2. That's a easy question, growing up in NY and now living in NJ..i can honestly say I've tried all the major brands and Boar's Head is the best hands down.. Its not even close...There Ovengold turkey, nothing even comes close. While there are alot of hams out there, nothing beats Boar's Head Deluxe Ham...Boar's head has so many products and health wise that where there really stand out..I recently found out that Thuman's donates money to sponsor companies like the AHA (American heart association) while boar's head's products actually exceed those standards...I 've been in the deli business a while and worked for alot of supoermarkets, such as, Stop n shop, shop rite, garden of eded, A &p and waldbaums.. I must say out of all the vendors and companies I dealt with the best was Boar''s head.

                          1. Well I have tried them all and overall I have found Thumanns to have the best flavor. They use the finest cuts and are minimum processed. I have done side by side comparison of Dietz and Watson to Thumanns and Thumanns is superior. In fact I've found Dietz and Watson Roast Beef to be one of the lousiest tasting ever. Thumanns isn't called The Deli Best"
                            for nothing. Check out their site. www.thumanns.com
                            Boars Head has some products like their Oven Gold turkey is good but overall most of their line
                            doesn't taste high quality as compared to Thumanns.
                            Boars Head price per pound is robbery.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: topguynj

                              Plenty of other companies make something similar to OvenGold, and always a few dollars less. Quality is similar, you don't have to buy salty watery turkey if you don't want. Lately I like Hansel and Gretel, and Great Lakes for cheese. I'll buy Boars Head on sale, otherwise I actually have an adversion to them due to their crazy prices.

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                I recently tried Seltzer's Smoked Turkey Breasy. Very Good! Who knew, I thought they only made lebanon bologna