According to Owen Wister’s novel The Virginian, Underwood Deviled Ham was a cowboy favorite in frontier Wyoming, along with tinned sardines, and a heated-up chunk of canned corned beef was likely to be served to you as the main course at a restaurant or boarding house in a small frontier town.

The deviled ham is palatable, spread on a cracker — the canned corned beef has a quality of dog food about it, faintly savory, faintly repulsive.  Wister said that fresh chickens and eggs were rare on the frontier, along with milk and butter, and that fresh vegetables were all but unknown.

Beef and beans were the staples of a cowboy’s diet, with some bacon or fresh-caught trout now and then if he got lucky.  Home gardens, milk cows and chicken coops were brought to the frontier by women who married ranchers, and were otherwise considered unmanly things to truck with.


If you want to eat like a real cowboy, have some fried or stewed or barbecued beef, some beans, and some meat or fish out of a can.