Letter – No Genuine? Say it ain’t so

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I was very disheartened, dismayed and not a little angry upon learning that Smithfield Foods will discontinue producing Genuine Smithfield Hams!

I grew up in Smithfield, and although I have lived in the D.C. area since the early 1970s, it still holds a place in my heart. Growing up, we always had a Genuine before Thanksgiving, and it lasted through Christmas. 

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My father worked for Gwaltney’s, occasionally bringing home receipts from the White House, Princess Grace of Monaco and from Buckingham Palace.  All of these were for several cooked hams, so they must have liked them too.

Several years ago, I discovered that small, 2-pound packages of cooked ham were available by mail, and I always purchased nine or 10 before Thanksgiving for myself, family and friends. I took a couple into work, and they didn’t last 10 minutes. Everyone loved them. 

I am surprised that the Chinese agreed to this decision. I attended language school in Monterey, California, to learn Chinese Mandarin. All of our teachers were native-born Chinese, and every single one, after learning I was from Smithfield, told me they loved the “Genuine Hams,” which were almost (but not quite) as good as Chinese hams. Just protecting their home turf, I guess.

Again, I am saddened that Smithfield Foods has chosen this course. I am sure there is a market for the real McCoy in the homes of regular folks throughout the country, as well as a niche market for gormands and gourmets and restaurants as well. 

I hope that Smithfield Foods will reconsider its decision, and continue to produce the “Hams that made Smithfield famous.”  They provided the name that is now so widely recognized for its excellent products.


James Bell