Citizens – if you’re not familiar with it, deviled ham is ground ham with added spices such as hot sauce, cayenne pepper, hot peppers, or mustard. The act of deviling, or spicing and sprucing up, can be done to a variety of food products, such as chicken, turkey, lobster, and of course, eggs. Deviled ham has long been a popular canned good, but can also be made at home with a blender.
The word “devil” appeared in relation to food in the 1700s, and the word “deviled” appeared in 1800 in the following phrase: “At half past two ate a devil’d kidney”. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, the term means “to cook something with fiery hot spices or condiments… The term was presumably adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell…”.
The William Underwood Company is perhaps the oldest and most well-known manufacturer of deviled ham. It began in 1822 as a producer of condiments, and grew in popularity due to its glass-packing techniques, which allowed it to provide food products with longer shelf lives to Civil War troops. Deviled ham was added as a product in 1868, and the company’s iconic logo, a sketch of an ominous-looking devil, was trademarked in 1870, making it the oldest food trademark still in use in America.
Those Citizens coming from the American South are firm in their belief that deviled ham should only be ground ham, mayonnaise and a few less than fiery spices. Others, on the other hand, eschew mayo and prefer the classic British-style “devil”, which is much spicier in both heat and seasonings.
To placate all sides, I – the inestimable and radiant TFD – have developed a hybrid deviled ham recipe that combines aspects of both preferred methodologies.
I am pleased with the result, which has restored divine harmony within TFD Nation and believe you will be equally pleased as well, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo