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How real is your food? Frozen stuffed clams with no clams?

I was browsing through the supermarket the other day. Looking at various foods and watching out for new products, trends, etc. and saw a tray of frozen stuffed clams that wasn't the usual Mattlaw's that the store carries. I turned over the package to read the ingredients and had to triple check because I didn't see clams listed. I finally made it down to the bottom of the list and it said the usual, "2% or less of the following:" and about halfway through that long list, after the preservatives, came clam meat and clam flavoring. I was flabbergasted.

The product should have said "Stuffed clam shells."

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  1. Sort of reminds me of years ago before the factory farms started making chemical crab and Lobster. I had to suffer through some awful dishes my mother (well known TV chef from that era) did to try and make a cheap tasting lobster dish (lobster was very expensive at the time) from (pollack?). Not even close. A couple dishes even the cats walked away from.

    However, to be on track, I add lemon juice to everything I drink due to a former kidney stone passing without notice. (The wife laughing as I screamed for an ambulance mentioning she gave birth before hitting 911). Several brands list flavor and like "sunny D" have little or no real juice content.

    2 Replies
      1. I worked in a casino food and beverage department. Our quick service deli sold a lot of fried foods and one of the most popular was the fried shrimp basket. One day I was looking in our freezer cooler and noticed that the box of shrimp said "Fried Imitation Shrimp" on it. I asked the executive chef about it and he said that it was because there was so much breading on the shrimp that they could be labeled as just shrimp.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jpc8015

          That's true, it is a really high amount of breading, like maybe 50%?

        2. No different than those frozen stuffed crabs for $3.99. I don't even have to check the list of ingredients to know there is little to no crabmeat in them. Price is usually an indication..

          Also, an online review states Matlaw's clams have less than 2% clam meat as well.

          11 Replies
          1. re: miss_belle

            Wow! Even Matlaws are less than 2% clam? I give up. It was bad enough to learn that Phillips crab cakes now use Asian crab.

            1. re: Veggo

              Speaking of Phillip's! One time, lump or back fin was on sale at a GREAT price. I instantly though CRAB CAKES for dinner. It was the P brand. Got it home, put on my READING GLASSES... to see if any interesting/different recipe on can. That's when I discovered THIS crab wasn't even remotely related to Maryland's blue claws!?!

              1. re: kseiverd

                and, don't be too surprised if those "jumbo lumps" in your crabcakes are man-made and not "crab-made".


                Culinary Jumbo (Limited availability
                )Jumbo lumps made by extracting 100% crab meat from the whole crab and forming into large lumps. Phillips patented process produces natural shape jumbo lumps with no binder involved. Advantages: large lumps hold together better under handling; consistent sizing; and high quality raw material. Great for use in crab cakes for impressive jumbo appearance.

                1. re: kseiverd

                  Reminds me of the time I picked up a can of crabmeat at the supermarket. The brand was Tilghman's. Tilghman's Island in Chesapeake Bay is an Article of Faith in the Maryland/Virginia crabbing industry so I thought this was the genuine article. Then I read on the can "Product of Indonesia".

                  1. re: Querencia

                    Same deal with Phillips. As Veggo says, most not from US anymore, especially the canned which is what I buy, although some still is. The domestic I can only find at fish markets though.

                2. re: Veggo

                  Here is the review.


                  Looks like some of that clam might be textured soy protein.

                3. re: miss_belle

                  Matlaws has several different types of clams. The ones I looked at the other day were the "All Natural" Premium Whole Foods exclusive, had clam in the actual ingredients list as number 2 after water and before bread crumbs. The others are just as bad as you point out.

                  1. re: JMF

                    Ok thanks. I see that now.


                    $6.99 for nine stuffed clams still sounds awfully cheap. I'm sure they're good though.

                    1. re: JMF

                      I tried the Matlaw's "All Natural" from Whole Paycheck and I see why water is listed as the 31 ingredient. I couldn't get them to crisp up or fully brown at the recommended cooking at 450F for 30 minutes. And this was with the convection fan in the oven turned on. Even at 50 minutes they were still a pudding-like consistency.

                      They had a few tiny nuggets of what seemed to be clams, but were so tasteless I wasn't sure. the Matlaw regular stuffed clams that have no clams actually had a better texture and much better flavor.

                      Also I had several days of stomach problems afterwards.

                      1. re: JMF

                        I appreciate your clam update. I did wonder about the $6.99 price tag. Well, you know the old saying you get what you pay for:-)

                        I would have tried them just like you though.

                        Sorry about your stomach problems.

                  2. This is a good incentive to make as much as possible from scratch, especially something as easy as "stuffed whatever". I am also wary of restaurant items which depend on breadcrumbs for binder, too tempting for the person in charge of profits to slip a bit extra in until it becomes all breadcrumbs.

                    Since I was in the business I couldn't help knowing the ingredients especially when selling to healthcare and schools (which is where most of this cheap stuff goes); I have to say sometimes I was also pleasantly surprised at the quality of some product. Good thing ingredients have to be listed as they are nowadays.

                    1. Does anyone else remember the frozen veal patties that contained no veal. Flat white & green box. I don't remember the brand.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: HillJ

                        There's probably a few of them! "Patties" is actually is a USDA term meaning there is filler in there (if you're lucky, soy) so always check the ingredient list and percentages on that type of item.

                        1. re: coll

                          Sure, I'm aware of the lingo. I believe my Mother bought them once and after preparing one proceeded to throw the box in the trash (so maybe early 70's). I've never actually eaten a packaged veal cutlet. I don't think I've even eaten a veal cutlet more than twice in a restaurant. Without a sauce or seasoning, veal cutlets have no taste. I like lamb chops.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I used to sell veal cutlets and the same company had patties too, which also sold well. But there was definitely a decent amount of veal in there. I am sure every veal processor makes a patty, they are actually preferable to tough old veal that the delis and pizzerias would buy otherwise. But if you don't like them, you're lucky, they are so ridiculously expensive.

                            When I want veal, I go to an Italian butcher and get the youngest they have, never disappointed yet. It's usually a special occasion for us though!

                            1. re: coll

                              I wish I could remember the brand name. This thread reminded me of that product. My Mother rarely threw out food so her doing so stuck in my mind. I'm pretty sure the box had six patties super thin cardboard in green and white.

                              I'm sure plenty of frozen prepared meatloaves contain a good deal of filler too.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Did she get it at the grocery, or maybe at the butcher? It sounds sort of like a wholesale item. Or did you used to have one of those meat guys that drove around the neighborhood, them too.

                                Looking quickly I found
                                They seem like the biggest back then.

                                1. re: coll

                                  I wish I could remember. My sister might. I'm sure it was bought through a grocery store.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    Sounds exactly like something my Mom would serve too. Obviously wasn't too memorable if she did make it however. I think veal used to be sort of cheap back then.

                        2. re: HillJ

                          I know Mrs. Paul's was known for fish "products" but have the dimmest of inklings that they might also have done other proteins, and if memory serves, their packaging was dark green and white.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            In this case, the box was white and the lettering was green. Then wrapped in a plastic film. Definitely not On-Cor.

                              1. re: seamunky

                                Wow that looks so familiar.....

                          2. I'm probably the opposite of most of CHers. Much of my food is deliberately fake......

                            No it's not because I'm cheap, but the constraints of runnina kosher kitchen means using substitutes for meat, dairy and shellfish in many recipes.

                            Tofu or chemical based Cheeze, Sot based meet (all the msspellings are deliberate.

                            Imitation Krab all make 'facsimiles of forbidden dishes possible. And if you are someone who keeps a kosher kitchen at home, but has eaten all of the real items out, you know the difference, but can achive some acceptable or really good alternatives.

                            1. I was out one evening with some elderly folk that wanted to eat dinner, so we headed over to the local NJ style diner here in NY. There is at least one on every corner, so it isn't a hard decision.
                              One of the elderly folk gets the seafood platter of sorts, broiled, and the other the fried platter of seafood. Both start off with a cup of "clam chowder".
                              Both of them complained about the amount of breading on and in the seafood.
                              Broiled stuffed shrimp proved to be tiny shrimp with a log of breading (stuffing) extending far beyond the shrimp, as was shown by removing the shrimp from the stuffing... stuffed clams had a single shred of clam in all the bread and was tough as nails she said. breading on the broiled fish fillet, and the "clam chowder" hadn't a single calm in it.
                              He was told by the waitress that, "if you find a clam, you win a prize!" I told him that the "prize" was the clam itself, if found.
                              Good luck in todays world... we are becoming more and more european in having to watch everything we consider consuming...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                I am so picky about good food that dining out can actually be stressful for me if I go to a dining establishment I am not familiar with. For many of the reasons you have posted. I will not eat the food (unless I am starving) if it is a mess like that. We all deserve to eat great foods at least 99.9% of the time Gastro and I think we agree on that. Luckily N California is a food haven so dining out is usually a fun satisfying experience but I have been served some expensive disasters and expected to consume it by restaurant staff:( Gagging as I type:)

                                1. re: MamasCooking

                                  "I am so picky about good food that dining out can actually be stressful for me "
                                  "We all deserve to eat great foods at least 99.9% of the time"

                                  most haven't a clue what you are referring to. rest assured though, you are not alone.

                                  we do agree. but we are a minority.

                                  wishing you good Chow always !

                              2. Another example- which is well know- no actual bacon in bacon bits.....
                                Textured Soy Flour, Canola Oil, Salt, Caramel Color, Maltodextrin, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Lactic Acid, Yeast Extract, Disodium Inosinate And Disodium Guanylate (Flavor Enhancers), And&Nbsp;Fd&Amp;C Red 40.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Ttrockwood

                                  I have become something of a bore on the subject of cooking my own food and freezing it myself for future convenience. Your post makes me feel justified. I am just so turned off by those lists of chemicals.

                                2. What I get a kick out of is packages that proudly state "MADE WITH REAL XXXX". I guess I'm supposed to be impressed. The 'real' whatever is usually the 2% or less.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                    that's the flavor essence :)
                                    or, essence of flavor!

                                  2. This reminds me of the first time I visited a friend's family in Long Island. They had laden the table with that particular kind of striving generosity that makes explicit the fact that your hosts had been generous and that they want you to know it. His mother was particularly beaming with pride about her clam dip and, knowing I was a bit of a cook myself, quizzed me about what ingredients I could discern. With a wry grin, she corrected me, "You wanna know what my secret is? It ain't got no clams!" According to her, mashed up Ritz crackers and butter make the most exquisite clam dip this side of West Egg.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      That's sort of weird for someone on Long Island, for sure. Even the members of my family that have moved inland upstate have clams in their clam dip, but down here I can't even imagine why that would be. Hopefully you don't think that's normal ;-) At least she warned you.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        I don't think she was warning me so much as she was bragging about how she duped us! I don't know whether her recipe is typical, but that bready, greasy dip is similar to stuffed clam shells I've come across where clams sort of take a backseat to the cracker filling.

                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          I only had my first "clam dip" a few months ago, I knew ahead that I wouldn't like it as much as having them on the half shell so I wasn't disappointed. But the two I've seen so far are all cream cheese and mayo and a couple of cans of chopped clams, with the emphasis on clams!

                                          Guess I'm out of touch but I was blissfully unaware of such an appetizer until recently, not to mention its many nuances!

                                      2. re: JungMann

                                        Hi Jung Mann I miss your descriptive food posts. Maybe you should treat that little old lady to the real deal sometime:) Now I want some:)