Today I thought I'd try to embrace the "disgusting" part of the title that I use for these food and drink themed blog posts. While I was strolling down the aisle in the local Food Lion grocery recently, I came upon several kinds of canned sausages. One of them even had the appetizing name of "bulk sausage," whatever that is. (Since, I've heard that this might refer simply to sausage that doesn't have a casing around it.) Therefore, I snapped up three cans--one from Banner, one from Prairie Belt, and one from Beverly. This can be seen as a companion piece to my post about various potted meats, such as Spam and Treet, from November 8, 2013. I was further amused when I googled the names of these products, and on the first page I saw blogs calling one "unspeakable," and another titled, "Ewwww, They Call This Food," about the Beverly one.
Banner is a brand of the giant Pinnacle Foods company, based out of New Jersey here in the U.S. Pinnacle's website boasts that their products are found in 85% of American households. Given that their brands include Birdseye, Log Cabin, Mrs. Paul's, Duncan Hines, Van de Kamps, Mrs. Butterworth, Aunt Jemima, Vlasic, Armour, Celeste, and Hungry-Man, this might not be an exaggeration. The elder statesman of their brands appears to be Armour, which was started in Chicago back in 1867. (And, to be negative, this company had some problems with their food safety, and was probably one of the companies loosely fictionalized in Upton Sinclair's muckraking novel "The Jungle," published in 1906.) Also, Clarence Birdseye reportedly discovered the secret to making palatable frozen food while traveling in the Arctic--flash freezing minimizes ice crystal formation, which means there is less tissue damage, and therefore a better flavor. Finally, the Hungry-Man frozen dinner line seems to be the youngest child of the family, only dating from 1973. (Incidentally, I wonder if this sexist name has ever sparked any protest.)
The Beverly bulk sausage is from Boone Brands, out of Sanford, North Carolina. This company was started by the Patterson family, and they've been in business for over 75 years. Aside from the canned sausage, they also market canned seafood products, and prepared Brunswick Stew. Also, their Harris line markets a "she-crab soup," whose name I find mystifying. Aren't crabs of both sexes eaten pretty much interchangeably?
I wasn't able to locate a website for Prairie Belt, so my info about them is basically limited to where they're based (San Diego, California), and what's on the can label. I was very excited, though, to read that one of the ingredients in their smoked sausage is pork spleens. I pride myself on trying as many different organ meats as I can, but thus far spleen has escaped me. (At least as far as I know--I guess hot dogs and other sausages and potted meats may contain bits of spleen in their mishmashes of largely trash meat, but I never had them definitively.) The spleen is essentially the blood filter of the body--it removes old red blood cells, holds a blood reserve, stores white blood cells and platelets, synthesizes antibodies, and recycles iron. It's also an organ that people can live without, like the stomach, gall bladder, colon, reproductive organs, and even kidneys (if you get dialysis). Spleens aren't that popular as food, however. One of the exceptions is the Sicilian spleen sandwich. Nutritionally it's high in both iron and cholesterol.
But, on to the ratings.
1) Banner sausage (Pinnacle Foods). This came in a 10.5 ounce (298 gram) can. The ingredients were pork, mechanically separated chicken, water, modified corn starch, salt, vinegar, natural flavors, and sodium nitrate. This looked like pink grainy glop. The texture was also like grainy glop. The taste was very salty. It was also reminiscent of some of the weaker potted meats I've had, which isn't an endorsement. It was fair at absolute best. I didn't finish it. I should mention, though, that I had it unheated, and plain, right out of the can. Maybe it would have been better heated up with eggs, as was suggested on the label.
2) Prairie Belt smoked sausage (Prairie Belt company). This can was 9.5 ounces (269 grams). Inside were seven individual sausages, which looked like a half or even a third of a thick pink hot dog. Once again I had them right out of the can, unheated, and plain. Their flavor was very much like a hot dog, too. So alright, but not great. I then put some Taco Bell sauce on them, and this improved them nicely. These were decent, and I did finish the can. I would even consider getting these again. It's just a shame that I couldn't detect the individual pieces of spleen within the overall sausages, to properly judge this organ's taste. Incidentally, the other ingredients were mechanically separated chicken, water, chicken skin, pork skin, corn syrup, salt, mustard, spices, paprika, natural flavoring, pork stomachs, sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium nitrate, hickory smoke flavor, and chicken broth.
3) Beverly bulk sausage (Boone Brands). Can was 283 grams/10 ounces. Ingredients were pork stomachs, beef tripe, beef, beef heart meat, water, wheat flour, pork, salt, vinegar, spices, and sodium nitrate. As with the others I had this one unheated, straight out of the can. This looked like pink mush with yellowish globs (fat?) on it. It reminded me a lot of the Banner kind, only less salty. It was slightly better with Taco Bell sauce on it, but only slightly. Overall then, not good, and I didn't finish it. Once again, though, maybe this would have been significantly improved if I'd followed the preparation directions and had this with toast, or cooked and mixed up with eggs.
Therefore, then, two out of three of these weren't good. But, even these two weren't among the grossest things I've ever eaten or anything. And admittedly the ingredients don't inspire much confidence, because they're mostly odds and ends, or trash meat, but you can make the same accusation about regular sausages, too, or hot dogs. In a way I'm disappointed that these weren't absolutely revolting, because at least then they'd be more memorable.