For many, mention of a Dutch loaf sandwich evokes a brown bagged lunch of youth. Now often referred to as an “Old Fashioned Loaf,” or simply, luncheon meat, this meat remains a nostalgic favorite among baby boomers and their parents. For Generation X and younger, it has been most likely been replaced by bologna and other more recognizable lunch meats.
Dutch Loaf is made with a mixture of pork and beef that has been coarsely ground. Added to this meat mixture are savory spices — which most manufacturers refer to as “natural spices.” This mixture of pork, beef and spices are then formed into a loaf shape, roughly the size of a loaf of bread, and then smoked. Once it is fully smoked, the meat is sliced thinly at the deli, meant to be served on bread.
The origin of this product's name remains unclear, however, Sugardale Foods of Canton, Ohio states that its first product after opening in 1920 was in fact, a Dutch Loaf. Few lunch meat manufacturers produce it now, and may produce and sell it under a variety of names, including, spiced ham or spiced luncheon loaf.
Most likely, modern, commercially prepared versions of Dutch Loaf have more preservatives then the original recipes. They typically contain dextrose, corn sugar solids and sodium nitrate — which means that it is also high in sodium. The meat may also be covered with oleoresin of paprika, which is the color concentrate of the chilis.
The Dutch Loaf gained a bit of notoriety in the 1990s when a woman sued Hormel Foods for breaking a tooth when biting into a slice of Hormel’s Old Fashioned Loaf Lunch Meat. While the lawsuit most likely had no detrimental effect on its popularity, the decrease in neighborhood delis, the increase in prepackaged lunch meats, and a desire for more low fat lunch meat alternatives relegated the meat to memories of white bread and mustard sandwiches and old fashioned lunch counters.