Slate Searches for the “Soul” of Boar’s Head, Finds “Pushy New Yorker” of Meats

01/31/2012 3:19 PM |


For Brooklynites, Boar’s Head is a reliable, constant presence in everyday life. Doesn’t even matter if you’re a vegetarian—whether it’s a line of hams behind the deli counter observing your beer runs, or that giant, squat lunchbox of a processing plant on Bogart St. blessing your morning commute, the brand is almost a personality unto itself, a benevolent Big Brother figure of meat processing. It seems Bryan Curtis of Slate has noticed this too, which is why he decided to profile the corporation to see if he could find out more about his omnipresent neighbor.

What Curtis came up with is kind of a love letter to one of the largest corporate sandwich meat manufacturers in the United States. He lists 11 ways to think about Boar’s Head as a personality, from its humble, turn-of-the-century horse-cart beginnings to lesser known facts about its modern competitive streak:

In 2009, a handful of Florida stores that stocked Dietz & Watson meats were having fundraisers for breast cancer. This didn’t sit well with some Boar’s Head distributors who hawk the product. As the Fort Myers News-Press reported, dozens of Boar’s Head trucks showed up at the fundraisers. The trucks took up parking spaces and blew their horns and acted like turkey-wielding commandoes. A Boar’s Head spokesman apologized afterward, explaining that the distributors thought the cancer fundraisers were actually taste tests which pitted Boar’s Head against Dietz & Watson.

Curtis also recounts the story of a Brooklyn Heights deli that, opening in 2008, turned out to be a front for Boar’s Head, a way, he notes, to “monitor the Boar’s Head-eating public.” The deli, F. Martinella, an amalgamation of BH executives’ surnames, lied about having established itself in 1949 and then closed the following year.

Huh, interesting. Curtis concludes that Boar’s Head, the corporation, is just another “pushy New Yorker who, after years of attention-hogging, becomes perversely lovable.” Not so sure about “lovable” this time, but to each his own. Just don’t make a big deal of eating some Dietz & Watson in front of Boar’s Head HQ, which moved from Brooklyn to Sarasota Florida in 2001.


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