Italy’s mortadella sausage is the granddaddy of our modern bologna, which was made with pork and a great deal of pork fat. It’s found in each self-respecting sausage shop in Italy, and although large meat companies, such as Oscar Meyer, have altered the recipe and call it bologna, the first mortadella may nevertheless be found in delicatessens across the U.S. especially in Italian areas.
“Baloney” is purely an Americanized name for the Italian sausage, and in the early twentieth century it also became a popular word meaning”nonsense” or bogus, as in”that’s such baloney.” Creating mortadella sausage was considered an art form and only a handful of families were permitted the privilege. It was considered a significant ration for Roman armies, and Napoleon is purported to have introduced it to France. It is so revered in Italy a 1971 film starring Sophia Loren was titled La Mortadella, where her character tried to smuggle the sausage into the U.S. Those Italians take their sausages seriously.
Immigrants brought it together in the late 1800’s and put up street carts, small family restaurants and butcher shops, where they sold their beloved sausages, and people of all heritages embraced them. With the invention of sliced white bread (think Wonder), a kid’s lunch became simpler, with mother slapping some baloney between two slices of bread, a smear of mayo, and off to college little Johnny went.
While lots of folks frown upon the”mystery meat” sandwich, there’s no denying that its prevalence has almost a cult following (like Spam,) and don’t try telling a baloney aficionado differently. Throughout the Depression, bologna gained strength, as it was much less expensive than salami or ham. Often made with leftover parts of meats and heaven knows what else that has been chucked into the grinder, it filled up hungry people and kept longer than more perishable sandwich fillings. Ring bologna was often a main course for dinner and tastier than its sliced lunch meat cousin.
Mid-twentieth century, food companies began selling sliced meats in the grocery stores, and the convenience and availability attracted overworked homemakers. No more cooking big meat loaves, baking hams or roasting beef for lunches. Since mac and cheese had no travel ability, it had been cold cuts for the mass majority.
Though bologna sales began declining in the 1970’s as people reached out for lower-fat and better quality meats, especially turkey and chicken, baloney is making a comeback, not only for nostalgic reasons but for its price and availability. During a U.S.weak economy between 2007 to 2009, major supermarkets across the country saw a significant growth in bologna sales. In 2016, lunch meats generated a whopping 2.01 billion dollars in U.S. sales. In the Canadian province of Newfoundland, bologna consumption constitutes 35% of the entire country. In a fish-based people, this cheap meat is a staple.
True bologna fans consider it a regular part of the diet, and they’ll give you detailed descriptions about the best way to cook it (purchase a whole sausage and slice it thick).
So please do not disparage this hot sausage. Perhaps you don’t have great memories of it, maybe you ate a poor brand or you just don’t like the entire idea of processed meats. But this sausage has survived the test of time. It is pure baloney.