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]


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


Toast Of War
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]

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]

Retrieved from ''
Listen to Tammy and Lester and hear some American history about eggnog.

Eggnog gets a bad rap because people have not had one made fresh for them.

“These days we think of eggnog as a nonalcoholic drink that you can add alcohol to. But traditionally eggnog was an alcoholic beverage. That's where it started. And it was basically a flip. It's a very, very old classic style of drink,” Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings explained.

Toast Of War Hacked

Toast Of War

Cheers! presented a flip recently on Michigan Radio’s Stateside. You can hear it here.

These days eggnog is often made with spiced rum. There are some Michigan spiced rums (here’s a list from the Rum and Stuff blog), but Tammy didn’t have any at her house. And, really, you can make eggnog with just about any spirit.

“These classically would have had all sorts of different kinds of spirits in it. Brandy or Madeira was common in England where eggnog started. In America, cheap and easily available rum became the spirit of choice in the colonies. But after the Revolutionary War, that rum supply dried up and Americans turned to whiskey for their eggnog. So I thought, I have no rum. I'm going to go with some whiskey,” Tammy said.

She chose Grass Widow Bourbon from Two James Distillery in Detroit which is aged in Madeira casks.

About the only think I know about Madeira is Thomas Jefferson was a fan when he was young (his tastes changed as he got older) and it was the beginning of a love affair with imported wines that left Jefferson with a fair amount of debt.

And about the only thing I know about whiskey during the colonial period is that George Washington had one of the largest in the colonies. (Mount Vernon has a page about that here.)

Toast Of War Game

So, a whiskey aged in Madeira casks and used in eggnog is practically patriotic. Right?

Tammy says it was so patriotic that it caused a riot at West Point Academy. No alcohol was allowed at the military school in 1826.

“Everybody wanted some. Somebody went out to town, smuggled in whiskey to be able to make eggnog. And it led to such a quantity of drunkenness that there was a riot and it ended with court martial of twenty cadets and one enlisted officer,” Tammy explained.

Here’s a 2013 article from Smithsonian Magazine about the riot.

Tammy says as she’s learned about cocktails, she’s seen all the ways in which alcohol has driven civilizations in many ways over history. It makes studying history a lot more fun.

This eggnog is really tasty. It’s not at all ‘gloopy’ like some commercial eggnogs can be. They often don’t use much egg, but they do add stabilizers, gums, and other thickeners.

Toast Of War

“What I like about this style of eggnog is that it’s got a lot of rich, creamy flavor, but it doesn’t have that gloop,” Tammy said.

Egg Nog Flip

2 oz bourbon (or spiced rum or other spirit of your choice)

2 oz half-and-half

2 tsp superfine sugar

1 egg

Dash vanilla extract or bitters

Garnish: nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Add ice and shake hard for 15 seconds. Strain into coupe or martini glass, garnish.

Toast Of War 2

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.