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Chipped Ham

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Title: Chipped Ham  
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Subject: Culture of Pittsburgh
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Chipped Ham

Chipped ham is a processed ham luncheon meat, chopped ham that is sliced razor thin through "chipping" the meat loaf against a commercial meat slicer blade. Chopped ham is a mixture of ham chunks and trimmings and seasonings, ground together and then packaged into loaves. By chipping the meat extremely thin, the meat is more tender and has more flavor than if it is sliced thickly. In Western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio, the slicing process is also known as "Pittsburgh Style". Sometimes the chopped ham, once chipped, is mixed with barbecue sauce before it is made into a sandwich to make a "barbecued chipped ham sandwich," a Pittsburgh favorite.[1] The ham can also be fried before making into a sandwich, sometimes referred to as "frizzle fry" on the menu. Isaly's in Pittsburgh helped to popularize chipped ham.[1]

Chipped ham reached a broad audience in the post-World War II era when it was heavily marketed as a lunchmeat suitable for packed lunches. Former United States Army soldiers likened it to Spam, to which they had grown accustomed while in the army. Its popularity has been furthered by its relatively low cost per pound.

The product is produced by a few meat packing facilities that process pork products and is marketed under a variety of commercial brand names.


  • Butko, Brian. Klondikes, Chipped Ham, & Skyscraper Cones: The Story of Isaly's. Stackpole Books (July, 2001). ISBN 0-8117-2844-7
  • Hinman, Robert B., Harris, Robert B. The Story of Meat Swift and Company. 1939.

External links

  • Brian Butko‚Äôs Isaly Site
  • Isaly Products Distributed by Delicatessen Distributing Inc
  • Roadfood Discussion Forum on Isaly's Chipped Ham


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