Posted by: Erica Retrochef | February 13, 2012

Meat Pops

For the Super Bowl last weekend, we mixed up a few retro snacks to enjoy during the game — starting with the bizarrely-named “Meat Pops.” (It’s a sandwich on a stick! Ew…)

Meat Pops

1/2 # package sliced luncheon meat *
3-ounce package cream cheese
2-3 teaspoons milk
8 large pretzel sticks (8-9 inches long)

Spread each slice of meat with cream cheese which has been softened with milk to spreading consistency. Roll meat slice diagonally around pretzel stick near one end. (May be chilled up to one hour before serving). Makes 8.

* Many different varieties of square sliced meats may be used.

There is apparently not very much square luncheon meats available in the deli at Bi-Lo these days, so we’re using ham. Square ham.

This resulted in an interesting conversation in our kitchen, speculating on whether you could grow animals into cubes by putting them in appropriately-shaped molds — much like square watermelons.

Thinning the cream cheese with milk seemed unnecessary, since it was quite lumpy for a while and took time to smooth out. For such a simple recipe, it was a complicated step, and I’d think that just smearing the cheese straight on the meat would be easier.

Speaking of smearing cheese on meat…

Our preschooler loved this step, insisting on rolling most of the meat pops himself.

And after just a few minutes, we had a bowl full of eight meat pops!

The kids thought meat pops were totally awesome — at first. Each claimed three pops, leaving just one each for Buzz and me. (We were totally fine with that, since it meant we had to eat only one meat pop.) But once they’d inhaled the first one, their enthusiasm slowed down a little bit. My son would only eat the pretzel part that was coated by meat and cheese, and my daughter refused to eat the last one on her plate. I think it was the mediocre ham that really ruined it… that, and the fact that extra milk just makes cream cheese bland. A hint of mustard could have helped rescue the flavor of these.

Meat Pops, from 1973’s “All About Sausage,” was found in Charm and Poise’s Flickr stream.


  1. Meat…pops.
    At least there was no freezer involved as I first feared.

    This is like lunchmeat pigs in a blanket, reversed.
    Or, something…

  2. This seems overly-fussy to make for Tha Big Game, if you had one of those superbowl parties with a dozen guys lined up on your sofa in front of your big screen TV. THEY want: ordered-out pizza, chips and dip, and beer. Period.
    On the other hand, the actual meat pops idea isn’t THAT weird, and by using various thin sliced meats, cheeses, and seasonings held together with the bland cream cheese glue (maybe with a bowl of tasty mustard dip) – that might just work!

  3. This is an OLD Cocktail Party / Catered Party finger food. You can massage this a thousand ways!

    Obviously, change the meats. Or to change the entire thing to less salty.

    Using a NEW clean, dry sponge wipe the salt off the pretzel (there were NO un-salted pretzels when I was a food bid’ness type) then add drained, crushed pineapple to the cream cheese, proceed with various meats.

    OR, same pretzel as last, add hot sauce, dry mustard, dijon, garlic powder, herb(s) of choice, various meats.

    This is actually not a bad recipe if you get quality meats and decent cream cheese and your added ingredients are good quality. One of the best versions of this is to chop up some canteloupe, add it to the cream cheese, use the de-salted pretzel, wrap it in cream cheesed prosciutto.

  4. I would totally try this with different variations. Like a horseradish/mustard/cream cheese with thinly sliced roast beef on one of those olive oil Italian breadsticks.

    • I also suggested horseradish while we were eating these. Obviously, it depends on what kind of meat you’re using what will make a good garnish, but horseradish would have worked with the ham.

      At the store, I was fixated on getting the square luncheon meat, and there wasn’t a lot of selection in that shape. It was either ham or some kind of artificially concocted pork loaf. (Pork liver loaf was one option that just scared me.) However, when it came time to assemble them, the shape seemed to be of no importance whatsoever. The cheese (which would have tasted better without the milk, for sure) was quite sticky enough to attach a slice of meat in any shape.

      • Pork liver loaf sounds like it’s right up my alley.

  5. Definitely has that 1950s party food look!

  6. Something occurred to me as I read these comments. My sister used to make a similar recipe to this.

    She would spread the cream cheese on slices of dried beef. Then she would wrap the slices around dill pickles. Then she would chill them for several hours. An hour before serving, she’d slice them into rings, and stack them into a pyramid on a plate. Put them back in the fridge until time to serve.

    • THat actually sounds good – and I don’t like pickles!

  7. I’m missing something maybe. WHY does the meat have to be square? I’ve made this with prosciuto and it is not square, EVER.

    • I think it “has to” be square only because the recipe says so — I guess it looks more tidy and symmetrical or something. Better meat and better filling (and ignoring the arbitrary “only square meat” requirement) would make this more edible, and perhaps even quite tasty!

      • Erica,
        getting away from ‘square’ meat opens this up to ANY meat. Wrap them in roast beef, very thin slices, slathered with horseradish cream cheese. I may write ALL these commented ideas down as addenda for the original recipe.

        (I gotta tell you, I wish this recipe had come out BEFORE the Superbowl!)

        (but it’s only 12 days, i hour and about 20 minutes until the Daytona 500!)

  8. I LOVE this mid-century variation and applaud you for sticking to the recipe come hell or high water!! Meat Pops forever!

  9. I grew up with cream cheese rolled in salamis. Very midwest!

  10. Try it without the milk in the cream cheese, and wrapped around a dill pickle instead of a pretzel. Chill to set, slice into rounds, and serve plain or on a tough cracker, like a Triscuit. Delish.

  11. Tycha B,
    I just remembered another variation of what you said, a thing my sister used to make.

    Spread the cream cheese mixture of your choice on meat of choice. She used to make a horse radish cream cheese spread, spread that on thin roast beef slices. Then wrap that around a good garlic style [Claussen] whole pickles. Lay them out in the fridge for an hour or more to firm up the cream cheese.

    Then she’d use a really sharp serrated knife to slice them into slices about 1/2″ thick. To serve them, she stacked them up to form a pyramid.

    She used to do it with Hormel Dried Beef too. That’s better with a dill pickle than a garlic.

  12. This is a slightly weird take on a classic italian appetizer made by wrapping prosciutto around grissini. No cheese required 🙂

  13. […] was posted online by Awful Library Books. We’ve actually made something from it before, Meat Pops, which were also fairly […]

  14. One of my mother’s old favorite snacks was a piece of Lebanon Bologna wrapped around half a banana.

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