Toast Of War

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Chipped beef
Modern chipped beef product, showing coiled packing
Place of originUnited States
Main ingredientsBeef

Chipped beef is a form of pressed, salted and dried beef that has been sliced into thin pieces. Some makers smoke the dried beef for more flavor. The modern product consists of small, thin, flexible leaves of partially dried beef, generally sold compressed together in jars or flat in plastic packets. The processed meat producer Hormel once described it as 'an air-dried product that is similar to bresaola, but not as tasty.'[1]


Chipped beef could be used to make frizzled beef (creamed chipped beef or SOS in military slang), or with eggs.[2]


Individual sliver of chipped beef

Chipped beef is served in many diners and restaurants in the United States as a breakfast item. It is popular among the veteran community who generally refer to it as 'Shit On a Shingle'; chipped beef in milk gravy (or 'S.O.S.') is a common traditional meal which is served in all branches of the United States Armed Forces due to its reasonable nutritional profile, ease and speed of preparing, and relatively low cost to produce in large quantities (i.e. in quantities sufficient to properly feed an entire military outpost). Creamed chipped beef is standard fare on many such diner menus, especially in the Mid-Atlantic, but has become harder to find in chain restaurants that serve breakfast; among the restaurants still offering chipped beef on toast are Golden Corral and Silver Diner. IHOP no longer offers this on their menus, having substituted sausage gravy, and the same is true for Cracker Barrel restaurants. It is also available from companies such as Stouffer's in a frozen form which can be put on top of separately-prepared toast; it is typically quite salty. For instance, Stouffer's creamed chipped beef contains 590 mg sodium per 5.5 ounces (160 g) serving.[3]

The mixture was also, at one point, available from both Freezer Queen and Banquet as 'hot sandwich toppers'; as of late 2007, Freezer Queen no longer makes this product, and the Banquet variety is rarely found. Finally, both the Esskay Meat Company of Baltimore and Knauss Foods make a refrigerated version of creamed chipped beef which can be easily microwaved. The meat itself is also available for purchase under the Knauss and Carson's Brand names. Steak-umm is used as a substitute.[4]

Chipped beef on toast[edit]

Chipped beef on toast (or creamed chipped beef on toast) is a dish comprising a white sauce and rehydrated slivers of dried beef, served on toasted bread. Hormel recommends flavoring the dish with Worcestershire sauce.[5] Chipped beef is also often served on bagels, English muffins, biscuits, home fries, rice, mashed potato and in casserole.

U.S. military cuisine[edit]

In the United States, chipped beef on toast was commonly served to service members of the United States Armed Forces. It was thus considered emblematic of the military experience, much as pea soup is in Finland or Sweden. In American military slang it is commonly referred to by the dysphemism 'Shit On a Shingle' (SOS),[6] or 'Stew On a Shingle', 'Same Old Stuff', 'Something On a Shingle', or occasionally 'Save Our Stomachs'.[7]

Toast Of War Unblocked

Wentworth and Flexner cite no origin for the term, but noted 'shingle' for slice of toast has had 'some use since 1935' in the U.S. Army, mostly in the expression 'shit on a shingle', and the latter had 'wide World War II Army use'.[8]

Chipped beef on toast (S.O.S.) is the title of a book of military humor.[9] In his World War II book Band of Brothers, Stephen E. Ambrose evokes the military basics:

At the end of May, the men of Easy packed up their barracks bags and … [took] a stop-and-go train ride to Sturgis, Kentucky. At the depot Red Cross girls had coffee and doughnuts for them, the last bit of comfort they would know for a month. They marched out to the countryside and pitched up tents, dug straddle trenches for latrines, and ate the Army's favorite meal for troops in the field, creamed chipped beef on toast, universally known as SOS, or Shit on a Shingle.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^'Dried Beef Products'. Hormel. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  2. ^Richards, Paul (1916). The Hotel Monthly Press. p. 80.Missing or empty title= (help)
  3. ^'Creamed Chipped Beef'. Stouffer's. Archived from the original on 2010-10-04. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  4. ^Wilbur, Todd. Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America's Favorite Restaurant Chains.
  5. ^'Chipped Beef on Toast'. Hormel. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  6. ^Alpert, Kristy (16 April 2016). 'This Military Dish Is the Best Hangover Meal You'll Ever Eat'. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  7. ^Robert Orben 2500 Jokes to Start 'Em Laughing, p. 38, at Google Books
  8. ^Wentworth, Harold; Stuart Berg Flexner (1967). Dictionary of American Slang (supplemented ed.). New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.
  9. ^Bertram, Charles S. (2003). Chipped Beef on Toast (S.O.S.). ISBN0-7414-1554-2.
  10. ^Ambrose, Stephen E. (2001). Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 38. ISBN0-7432-1645-8. Retrieved 2008-09-03.

External links[edit]

Toast Warning

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