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Campbell's Pork And Beans-- Blech!

I picked up a can of pork and beans for dinner last night (burgers, cole slaw) and decided that I'd pay about 1/2 price for good old Campbells vs. Bush's, which is our normal brand.
Now, I think I grew up eating Campbell's (was there any other brand back then?!) and liked it. It's been *years* since I've eaten it. It was....bitter! Yes! bitter tasting. I had to doctor it up with bbq sauce to make it passable.
Has anyone else sensed just how horrible this product is? I wonder if they changed the recipe?
What brand of baked beans do you recommend?

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  1. I've placed top 10 in a few barbecue competitions with VDC's beans. Granted they weren't straight out of the can. I don't think they've changed anything.

    Edit: Dang, I can't delete. You posted Campbells and I read Van De Camp's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chileheadmike

      That's ok! I want to know what brands people like. I don't think I've seen VDC's beans, although I've heard of the brand.

    2. Grew up on VanDeCamp and B&M depending on which was on sale. Bush's are good, but are really 'baked beans' more than just pork and beans. I'd rather start with the Pork and Beans and make my own baked beans with them, the commercial ones always seem too sweet. In reading other threads its clear that the line between Pork and Beans and Baked Beans is kinda blurry for most people.

      2 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        I use the terms in an interchangeable fashion. One of the reasons I went with the Campbell's was that the sugar was 1/2 of the other brands. I'm talking 15 g of sugar per serving!

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          There is a major difference between the B&M and the Van Camp's recipes. B&M is a traditional Boston baked bean recipe and uses molasses as a main sauce component and no tomato sauce. Van Camp's adds tomato sauce to their recipe.

          Here's how the major baked bean companies line up as to following the Boston baked bean original recipe: B&M, Bush's and Campbell's Baked Beans don't use tomato sauce. Van Camp's Pork & Beans , Heinz and Campbell's Pork & Beans all use tomato products in their recipe.

        2. I grew up with that small green can of "vegetarian beans" and have not eaten them in 20+ years. Why? All of the ones in a can are horrible. Cut you losses and buy potato and macaroni salad in the deli next time.

          1. Not be be nit picky, but the bean company is just Van Camp's. Van De Kamp is the frozen fish company. They are pretty sweet but definitely lend themselves to be doctored with bbq sauce, diced onions or scalliion, sliced hot dogs (the proverbial beans & weenies). The pork is a joke but bacon or ham can be added. I think it really makes a better ingredient than dish in itself. You could in fact buy regular canned beans if the sauce is objectionable though I will still on rare occasions partake of some good ol' beans and weenies for a really lazy lunch.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LorenM

              by golly, all these years.... good catch Loren, thanks!

              1. re: LorenM

                Owners of Van Camp's Pork & Beans:

                about 1882 - 1933 Van Camp's family owned
                1933 - 1963 Stokely acquired, company became Stokely-Van Camp's.
                1963 - 1983 Ralston Purina acquired Stokely-Van Camp's.
                1983 - 1995 Quaker Oats Co acquired Stokely-Van Camp's from Ralston Purina. Sold Stokely separately in 1985.
                1995 - Now ConAgra Foods acquired Van Camp's from Quaker Oats Co.

                Van Camp's did sell canned fish, but not fish sticks. Stokely-Van Camp's bought a tuna fleet in southern California in the 1930's and canned tuna. The tuna brand name they owned was Chicken-of-the Sea tuna.

                1. re: Antilope

                  I was looking at the Google newspaper archive and I found that in the first half of the 20th centrury, Van Camp's also made canned evaporated milk, evaporated cream, canned spaghetti, ketchup, kraut, pumpkin, kidney beans and chili con carne and even canned Maine style baked beans without tomato sauce called "Bean Hole Beans". They also made canned sardines and tuna as mentioned above.



                  1. re: Antilope

                    "Van Camp’s Pork & Beans traces its roots back to 1861 when Gilbert Van Camp and his wife Hester opened a family grocery store in Indianapolis, IN where they canned fruits and vegetables. Gilbert’s son, Frank, discovered that their Pork & Beans tasted even better when served hot in tomato sauce. He began to advertise the notion, and an American favorite was born."


                    I've read also Van Camp’s Pork and Beans were a staple food for Union soldiers in the Civil War.

                2. When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi many years ago, one of the few foods I could buy that reminded me of home was Campbell's Pork and Beans. I used to eat them cold out of the can and loved them. Haven't had them in years - time to try this again.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: MARISKANY

                    Pork and beans are good cold! I had just been buying Bush's beans for so long that I was shocked at Campbell's bitterness.

                    1. re: monavano

                      Personally, I don't think it matters what brand is best and what brand isn't. It's what you make with what you got that counts.

                      Growing up, my mom bought whatever was on sale, often the house brand. She'd put a couple cans in her "bean pot" (which everyone should own), first draining most of the liquid then she'd add ketchup, molasses and a bunch of other secret goodies and slow cook in the oven for several hours. The smell would permeate the entire house.

                      The end result was a thick, very dark, dark brown baked bean that was ALWAYS a hit, whether at home, parties, etc.

                      1. re: natewrites

                        I tried to "doctor" up the beans and it helped a bit, but bitterness? You can't undo that.

                        1. re: natewrites

                          Yes, I posted this too---my mother did it that way, I have done it that way for sixty years, and now my children do it that way. You can literally start with any junky cheap canned pork & beans if you doctor them up and bake them. People always ask if it's an old family recipe and when I say yes it's not a lie.

                        2. re: monavano

                          I do enjoy a cold can of Bush's Beans. Not out of the can though. A T of the Pickle Lady's Ketchup of course. With a bowl of Lays chips Original.

                      2. Have you noticed the recent proliferation of flavors within each variety. Besides "original" we now have "Grandmas", "Onion", "Bacon", "Homestyle", "Boston Recipe", "Grillin", "Honey", "Maple", "BBQ", "Country Style" and many more. I suppose some companies crave variety so they can occupy more space on the supermarket shelf, but to me the "original" is usually better than any of the upstart recipes.

                        And not too far off-topic, some time ago it was pointed out to me that Heinz vegetarian beans were the closest US equivalent to use for Britain's breakfast staple, baked beans on toast. Somehow that doesn't appeal to me at all.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: DonShirer

                          Well, I've been known to eat some cold Van Camp's pork & beans on a slice of white bread topped with mayo. Picnic food!

                          1. re: Antilope

                            Same here sans mayo and add mustard. I love those the day after a BBQ or a picnic if i am lucky enough to score leftovers. Usually baked beans are right behind deviled eggs on the 86 list at a party

                          2. re: DonShirer

                            I have fallen in love with the Maple versions, I add a bit of Capt Morgan spiced rum and call it a day. Guess I have a latent sweet tooth.

                          3. Haven't bought Campbells for years, there's a chemica flavorl to me

                            1. hey , some of bushes beans are ok/ b@m are just terrible and van de camps are ok but i have to still give hats off to campbells pork and beans.
                              partly [ as another comment or 2 have stated] there is substantially less sugar and fat in campbells.
                              maybe to some thats not important but is to me. and i guess since eating less sugary foods i find that bushes is way too sweet for me. they may have changed the recipe as campbells is real good/bad at doing that like they did to their cream of chicken and related several years ago. they simply ruined a decent product with some strange "whipped up" concoction .
                              i really like to make my baked beans own but thats a long process and a story for another day .

                              1. Just some trivia here. Campbells does guided tours of their plant for the public, but not on the days they do their beans. Big top secret stuff!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                  we are having their pork and beans with some hamburgers as i type you ! and thats no secret ! lol !!

                                  1. re: endangeredfood

                                    Classic..and potato salad I presume?

                                2. well what would go into the potato salad if there was one.
                                  yea, I'm searching for a recipe

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    That was always the standard accompaniment to the burger/ hotdogs and beans meal I grew up with or potato chips. Classic Potato salad was cubed boiled spuds, mayo, diced hard boiled eggs, pickle relish, diced onion, chopped celery, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dill weed and yellow mustard ( I like quite a bit). Absolutely nothing fancy- sorry. I guess it's a comfort food thing.

                                  2. Just add generous amounts of brown sugar and ketchup to them and bake them. If you put bacon and/or sliced onions on top it wouldn't hurt. To eat right out of the jar, try B&M, worth the extra money. But any old El Cheapo brand will respond to the brown-sugar-and-ketchup treatment.

                                    1. Yes...its the same recipe lol. My mom always used Campbell's but "doctored" them up a little bit. It's funny because I don't remember there being any of these other brands (Bush's, B&M, and others) when I was young, it was just Campbell's. My mom would take a couple cans and add a little bit of ketchup, a tad of yellow mustard, sprinkle in some brown sugar, and just a tiny bit of regular pancake syrup and throw them in the over for a little (even just a cpl mins works). My mom would make a tray for big BBQs and everyone (even ppl who swore they hated beans) would rant & rave about how they were the best ever! That's the same thing I do and they taste almost exactly like the other brands at about half the price as you said and I know I always have all those ingredients in my kitchen. Try it...I wish there were an actual recipe and I could give the exact amounts but it depends on how many cans you're making and on your taste. I recommend adding just a tiny bit of each, taste it, and play with it...add a little more of what you want. Honestly you can't mess it up unless you go overboard. Better to start off with less and add as needed.


                                      Can't wait to try them tonight! I'll post an update on how they are after we have them. I'll be so siked if I can buy the cheaper ones and not even have to change a thing :-)

                                      1. I haven't eaten them plain in years, but I do use them in a couple recipes. For a side dish we buy Bush's baked beans.

                                        1. We use Bush beans here too. I want to post further at a later time as i love beans in all kinds of ways. When i have a few minutes later I will yap more.

                                          1. I've never had an even passable pork & beans,. Does one even exist?? Grew to hate them as a kid.

                                            1. I like Van Camp's a few times a year. Another dirty, shameful, little secret ... I have to sneak a bite or two right out of the can before heating them. DH caught me, recently, and said "I like them out of the can too, you don't have to heat them up" Seriously? You are just 'fessing up to this after 28 years?

                                              1. Of all the canned bean products, I still like the Ranch Style Beans the best.

                                                1. I grew up with B&M (1950s/1960s) and have tried others like Bush, always go back to my standard.

                                                  1. Pretty much everything Campbell's makes is hideous. Here in Maine I prefer a local brand: Look's. If they are unavailable then Bush's

                                                    1. I've never had Van Camps Baked Beans before, so I decided to try something new & different. I opened the can, dumped it in the pot, added weenies & smoked sausage & started cooking. After they were done, I decided I would taste them for the first time. Worse taste EVER! It DOES NOT taste like your normal baked beans. I can't describe the taste, but I will NOT be purchasing these beans again!

                                                      EDIT : Just realized the title says CAMPBELL"'S Baked Beans. Sorry!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: nenemisfit

                                                        Campbell's Pork N Beans are awful. I don't know how it passed taste tests to go into production.

                                                        Van Camps Pork N Beans has changed ownership several times. To me it tastes the same as it did when I was a child in the 1960's. I like the plain Van Camps Pork N Beans. I can't stand the Van Camps Beanie Weenies, the taste is somehow different (not from the addition of the weenies).

                                                      2. I like Bush's beans, but I add scallions and some molasses and pepper and a couple of other little things to it. Campbell's needs far more tweaking than I'm willing to commit to, regardless of the price.

                                                        1. Gosh, that sure comes as a surprise. Campbell's is such a high quality brand, generally.

                                                          1. I agree they had to have changed I used to be able to eat them right out of the can now they taste so bad I cant eat them!!! I dont know what they did but yuk!

                                                            1. I've never had that brand, but I like Bush's brand, it requires less addition than most others, I like the thin-sliced scallions and some molasses.

                                                              1. I could never purchase anything named/Bush's. (Sorry)
                                                                I really don't eat pork and beans very often, and I do not like them served hot

                                                                1. OP here (glad to see this thread resurrect every once in awhile!!), I found a brand that I don't normally see in the stores near me- Van Camp's baked beans.

                                                                  Not bad at all. Certainly home made is better, but the VC's was cheap and hit the spot for a canned good.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                    Anyone got a recipe that replicates as close to Bushes Beans Original as possible.
                                                                    Like trying to replicate KFC?