Liver Loaf: "APPETIZING!"

This 1942 Life ad for "Morrell EZ-Serve Liver Loaf" manages to make what amounts to pate sound like something really, really revolting (perhaps because of the ad's mention of sister products like Tongue Loaf). Notably, Liver Loaf hails from Radar O'Reilly hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa -- perhaps it was a favorite of the M*A*S*H writers.

Life, January 12, 1942


  1. Like Neece’s Livermush, except in a can. And you have to give them credit for using the whole animal for human consumption, rather than rendering the less desirable parts back into feed.

  2. “Anti-pellagra Vitamin”? Had they not named B3 yet, or was pellagra a big enough problem that they figured it deserved a call-out in the ad copy?

    1. Looks like it was known as “pellagra-preventing factor” or “vitamin PP” until the late 40s or so. They seem aware that it’s a B-group vitamin, but if the average man knew it as “that anti-pellagra thing” the adman would want to use the more familiar name.

      Pellagra was a huge problem in the corn-dependent American south in the first part of this century, before they finally figured out the Aztecs were soaking their corn in lime before cooking it for a very very good reason (the lime frees up the B3 for human digestion).

      It was killing over a thousand people on an annual basis, and sickening thousands more. Not pretty.

  3. Back then it was vitamin B. Then came Pauling to say we all needed C. Now it’s D. E we’ve already done, (including various suggestions of toxic dosages!) So next to invest in: Essential Fatty Acids! (aka vitamin F) …oh wait that’s all that omega fatty acids stuff. uhm… vitamin G is riboflavin, sure lets do that; but only if it occurs in Loaf form. because all food is better in Loaf form.

  4. Tongue is really good, at least in deli sandwich format I’m not sure why you’d find it offensive—now Veal loaf that’s just horrible.

  5. “Tongue? I refuse to eat anything that comes out of an animal’s mouth. Now go fry me some eggs.”

    – Archie Bunker

    1. Tongue rocks! I grew up poor and back then (just after dinosaurs) tongue was a throw away item that could be had for pennies. My mom made it regularly and it was darned good. Today, that same tongue will set you back as much as a decent steak or more since only a small part of the tongue is tender enough to eat.

      Tacos de lengua is my first choice.

  6. I haven’t been carnivorous for the last few decades, but liver and tongue can be really good-tasting meats if you treat them well. I don’t know if canning liver is like cooking it into shoe-leather or not; corned beef is probably better suited to surviving the canning process. (And yeah, turkey roll vs. actual turkey is a big lose.) There are enough actual Mexicans running Mexican restaurants in this part of California that lengua is fairly common on taqueria menus, and back when there was a Jewish deli around here they usually had tongue as well as liver.

    Of course, talking about nutrition while showing pictures of sandwiches on white bread may be missing a few concepts.

  7. While I loves me some tacos de lengua, tongue loaf – not so appetizing, thankyouverymuch!

  8. This was 1942, America was still getting used to being at war, and companies would never sell something as unpatriotic as liverwurst, not while our boys were fighting to beat back the Hun. This just looks like another attempt at re-branding a product to better meet consumer demand.

    I prefer canned unicorn meat myself.

  9. Apart from the lack of four-color printing, I don’t see how it’s any more revolting than pate normally looks. Liver & onions with a side of fried apples & bacon is actually making me kind of hungry…

  10. Aside from being a reason for not calling it “wurst,” the war was probably a factor in marketing this product in the first place. Remember, meat was closely rationed, so potted meat products were on the rise.

  11. “Serve cold as it comes…”

    Reading that, I shuddered like I hadn’t shuddered since first seeing “The Evil Dead.”

  12. On her last trip to visit family in Germany my mom bought several cans of the local Alsatian liverwurst. It was honest-to-goodness (emphasis on that good) liver loaf in a can, and it was awesome. So much better than the local Braunschweiger, much less the industrial versions.

    I’d happily have liverwurst on toast with mustard and pickles any day. Damn. Now I want some.

  13. One prob with liver is that it has lots of iron in it and the last thing people need nowadays is extra iron. It is toxic in high amounts and is a powerful free radical generator in cells if it gets free. Available iron also is a powerful microbial growth factor, the more iron available the more microbial growth can occur.

    1. the last thing people need nowadays is extra iron.

      Are you, by any chance, male?

  14. Iron is great to counter anaemia. This was also an era prior to mechanically refrigerated boxcars, and ice-refrigerated railway cars carrying fresh produce were in competition with war production needs. Goods that substituted for dietary requirements like iron, vitamins and so on, that could be shipped by lower-priority unrefrigerated freight probably were very attractive.

    But for all the revulsion some have expressed at this product (basically sausage in a can), I don’t doubt that any number of things that are eaten daily in America — sugar-rich desserts, almost anything in a fast food restaurant, cheese-impregnated artery choking pizza for starters, would have not met the standard for edible food for most people in the 40’s either. And on the whole, they’d be closer to a desireable diet.

    They weren’t the generation with the obesity problem – we are.

  15. John Morrel & Co. is still around. The closest thing to their WWII era canned meats are a line of sliced lunch meats:

    “You Can Trust You’ll Love It”

    They’ve got Braunschweiger.

    Canned meats have a dodgy, retro quality and an Upton Sinclair kind of rep, but I always have a dozen cans or so of canned meat in the pantry. Occasionally I’ll break out a can of Spam, slice it thin, bag the slices in pairs, and freeze them. I fry up a couple on Sunday mornings when I feel like having more than cereal and toast. Now and then I’ll dice up a cheap Walgreen’s canned ham into a double batch of macaroni & cheese.

    And nothing goes better on oatmeal than Hormel canned pork brains in milk gravy! (Just kidding . . . ugh.)

  16. I guess they really did make use of the whole animal. That lady’s entrail necklace is simply divine!

    (I’m gonna make a mint with these on Etsy)

  17. When I was a kid I had an uncle who worked for John Morrell & Co. On vacations sometimes we’d go on factory tours. I still remember the Hot Dog room, and the guys squeeging ankle deep blood to the floor drains. (I never did find out where it went from there.)

    Good times…

  18. …manages to make what amounts to pate sound like something really, really revolting (perhaps because of the ad’s mention of sister products like Tongue Loaf).

    It just goes to show you how American dietary tastes have changed. I’m pretty sure most people would be glad to eat such a product back in 1941, before modern processed foods became widespread.

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