The Quaker Oats man, Mr. Peanut, and the Gerber baby sure have been around for a long time. The Quaker oats man has been pushing boxes of Quaker oatmeal since 1877. Mr. Peanut was born in 1916. The Gerber baby was first drawn in 1932. But the oldest registered food trademark sill in use in the United States belongs to a food you probably rarely eat, Underwood’s deviled ham. The red devil which adorns cans of Underwood’s deviled ham, and chicken spread, has been a registered trademark since 1886, according to most sources. It may have been in use as early as 1870. This is likely since Underwood’s deviled ham was first produced in 1868. It used to be a very popular home convenience food, used for making sandwiches, but it’s not very popular today.
Underwood deviled ham is a canned meat product made from ground ham and a mixture of seasonings. Although it is not clear, the term deviled seems to have been a term applied to any food that was heavily spiced, especially with hot or pungent spices. This may, as well, have been the origin of the term deviled eggs for stuffed eggs, although today’s deviled eggs are not all that heavily spiced. The Underwood company, founded in 1822, was a pioneer in preserved canned foods. Today, Underwood makes several meat spreads. In addition to deviled ham, traditional chicken spread, the company also makes a Buffalo-style chicken spread, a Liverwurst spread, and a roast beef spread.
Deviled ham was not only found in cans in the 1800s. Recipes for deviled ham also appeared in cookbooks, and these continue into the twentieth century. Mustard, cayenne, hot sauce, or other chiles were typical ingredients. Both mustard and chile peppers such as cayenne are hot or “pungent” and so fit the conjecture that deviling refers to hot spices being added to foods, especially ground up foods. The typical way of eating deviled ham is in a sandwich, either alone or with added components, such as mayonnaise.
Beer is Not Food, but…Lowenbrau
Beer is not be considered food, although, once upon a time, it sort of was a food, as it could be considered a way of preserving grain in order to derive the nutrition from the grain without it going bad over long periods of storage. Regardless, I would be amiss not to mention the contender for the oldest trademark that at least has a connection with food, beverages, or something we consume. Lowenbrau beer first started using its lion symbol in 1383, the year that the Lowenbrau brewery got under way in Munich. That kind of makes every other such trademark look recent.