Baloney Deserves Your Respect

Why does baloney have such a bad reputation in the United States? Reporter Rebecca Rosman talks to the people working to give this maligned lunch meat another chance.

Published May 20, 2021.

These days, American baloney is mocked. Underappreciated. Stigmatized.

But it wasn’t always that way. In the early 20th century, after the release of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair’s frightening account of the meat-packing industry, baloney hit peak popularity because of Oscar Mayer’s safe and clean production methods.

But now? Baloney may still be well known, but it’s not well loved.

In the latest episode of our Webby Award–winning podcast Proof, reporter Rebecca Rosman sets out to get to the bottom of what caused this once-beloved American food’s fall from glory. She traveled to the food capital of Italy, Bologna, to learn about baloney’s fancy, revered cousin, mortadella. Then she visited the American Midwest to hear about some chefs’ quest to lift the nostalgic sandwich ingredient to new heights. (Two words: Wagyu baloney.)

Everyone loves a redemption story. Is it time for baloney to get one? Listen and find out.

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