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Chipped beef

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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.[citation needed] It is popular among the veteran community who generally refer to it by the dysphemism "Shit On a Shingle" or "S.O.S." (when polite company and/or children are present, the acronym is said to mean "Same Old Stuff."). Chipped beef in milk gravy is a common traditional meal 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 also a standard fare on many 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 540 mg sodium per 140 kcal serving,[3] down only slightly from 590 mg per 140 kcal serving in 2010.[4] 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.[5]

Chipped beef on toast[edit]

Chipped beef on toast, served on a plate with bechamel sauce

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.[6] 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 from World War I through Vietnam. It was considered emblematic of the military experience and consequently also served to Boy Scouts of the era.[7] In American military slang it is commonly referred to by the dysphemism "Shit on a Shingle" (SOS).[8]

According to We Are The Mighty, the dish first appears in the 1910 Manual for Army Cooks, where a recipe for feeding 60 men can be found as below:[9]

Beef, chipped (for 60 men)

Ingredients used:
15 pounds chipped beef
1½ pound of fat, butter preferred
1¼ lbs flour
2 12-oz cans of evaporated milk
1 bunch parsley
¼ oz pepper
6 quarts beef stock

Melt the fat in the pan, and add the flour; when it has cooked a few minutes, add the milk, dissolved in the beef stock, or water. Stir the batter in slowly to prevent lumping, and then add the beef. Cook a few minutes, add the parsley, and serve on toast. If the beef is very salty, it should be scalded before cooking.

-1910 Manual for Army Cooks[10]

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".[11]

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.[12]

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 Lunch Room. The Hotel Monthly Press. p. 80.
  3. ^ "Creamed Chipped Beef Frozen Meal ~ Official STOUFFER'S®". Nestlé S.A. Retrieved 2021-12-30.
  4. ^ "Creamed Chipped Beef". Stouffer's. Archived from the original on 2010-10-04. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  5. ^ Wilbur, Todd (June 1997). Top Secret Restaurant Recipes: Creating Kitchen Clones from America's Favorite Restaurant Chains. Penguin. ISBN 9780452275874.
  6. ^ "Chipped Beef on Toast". Hormel. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  7. ^ Boy Scouts Handbook (1st ed.). Boy Scouts Of America. 1911. p. 152. ISBN 9780486132815.
  8. ^ Alpert, Kristy (16 April 2016). "This Military Dish Is the Best Hangover Meal You'll Ever Eat". menshealth.com. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  9. ^ Stilwell, Blake (30 April 2022). "5 meals that won wars". We Are The Mighty.
  10. ^ Subsistence Department, US War Department (1910). Manual for Army Cooks. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 72.
  11. ^ Wentworth, Harold; Stuart Berg Flexner (1967). Dictionary of American Slang (supplemented ed.). New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.
  12. ^ 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. ISBN 0-7432-1645-8. Retrieved 2008-09-03.

External links[edit]