Posted by: Erica Retrochef | May 21, 2012

Ham Banana Rolls

This is one of our first recipes-by-request! Retro-Rama Mama found this … um … “interesting” recipe from December 1947, and asked if we could make it.

I took one look and said, “Uhhhh errr… hmmm….” The ingredients are terrifying, and I can completely understand why it’s unnerving. Ham and bananas? Mustard? Cheese sauce? (I don’t think my reaction would have been much more enthusiastic if I was actually a 1947 housewife, either. There isn’t even an exciting/silly name for the recipe! Why they didn’t name this something clever like “Tropical Ham Fest” or “Ham-nana Rolls,” I can’t understand.)

Buzz took one look and said, “We HAVE to make this! Look, there’s an anthromorphic banana carrying a pig! And a jar of mustard!”

Oh boy.

How to make “HAM BANANA ROLLS”

6 thin slices boiled ham
prepared mustard
6 firm bananas, peeled
cheese sauce

Use all-yellow or slightly green-tipped bananas

Spread each slice of ham lightly with mustard. Wrap a slice of the prepared ham around each banana. Place in a buttered shallow baking pan and pour cheese sauce over bananas. Bake in a moderate oven (350°F.) 30 minutes, or until bananas are tender … easily pierced with a fork.

Serve hot with cheese sauce from the pan poured over each roll.

Looking over these ingredients, I started to rationalize. Surely the nice people at the United Fruit Company wouldn’t purposely poison us, would they? I mean, they want us to keep buying bananas, so they wouldn’t kill off customers.

Thankfully the initial steps of the recipe feel pretty normal. Mustard goes on ham every day.

Bananas get peeled every day.

Making a roux base for a cheese sauce… well, that’s not really “every day,” but it’s pretty common. (I really prefer cheddar, though. American cheese just makes Velveeta, and tastes like fake cheese instead of interesting cheese.)

Stuff didn’t start getting weird until mustardy-ham slices were wrapped around the bananas. The ham looked a little on the small side. (No surprise, I guess. Have you ever tried going to the deli and estimating how long a piece of ham you need to encapsulate a banana? I suppose asking the nice deli lady that question would make me her most memorable customer ever….)

I squished these into an 8×8 casserole dish because that was what was clean. The hamina-hamina-hambanana rolls were then covered with the cheese sauce (which tastes just like melted Velveeta).

And now that our ham banana rolls are thoroughly enrobed in cheese sauce, it’s time for them to bake. This might be a good time to find religion and start praying…

The cheese sauce bubbled up very weirdly, possibly because I’d chosen such a small casserole dish.

Shocking news of this day: this qualified for a “meh” rating rather than outright “disgusting.” (No one’s more surprised than I am!) Don’t get me wrong: nobody enjoyed this, and we’ll never make it again. But it actually wasn’t as bad as you’d expect from ham stuffed with a mustardy banana. If you got a bite with a good distribution of banana, ham, mustard, and cheese, the flavors almost worked. ALMOST. (If you got a bite with just banana and American cheese, well, barf.)

Thanks (I think) for the suggestion, Retro-rama mama!


  1. *backing away quietly*
    Well, thus ends your streak of “Things I’d Probably Eat.* Good grief.

    MAYBE – and this is going out on the tippy-tip of a limb – maybe this is something that would fare well in the Caribbean or South America? Somewhere people eat plantains, and roast them like potatoes… I think the application of ham, mustard, and cheese might be workable there. The sweetness of the banana vs. the plantain is problematic, but there’s the whole goosh factor which plantains don’t have. Maybe someone was just trying to make a recipe jump cultures, and it didn’t leap far enough… Well done taking the hit for Retro-rama Mama, though.

    *shudders quietly*

    • Goosh factor, lol! You may be on to something ….Plaintain and Ham Casserole doesn’t make me shudder as much!

  2. You, Buzz and the family are hands-down my idols!!! Thank you so much for trying this one out for me. I was fascinated by the ad/recipe but just couldn’t do it!! A big virtual high-five!!!!!! This made my morning, thanks again. I am going to send a link over to my mother now….she was intrigued by this one also!!

  3. I was shocked that I had no real difficulty finishing two of these bananas at dinner. Although I had insisted on making the recipe, I wasn’t terribly keen on the idea of eating it. What I was most dreading was the savory flavors of mustard and ham combined with the banana. However, that didn’t really turn out to be a problem. While I’m often a bit leery of heavy mustard flavor, the mustard was actually quite important to making this edible. It cut through the sweetness of the banana, which really helped. Without the mustard, I might have had trouble finishing my portion.

  4. Wow.
    Retro Ruth tried this same recipe and had even less luck with it than you did.
    Oddly, this recipe also appears in a McCalls casserole cookbook I own, along with just about every Church Lady cookbook ever published. Do people actually eat this? I mean more than once?
    Or maybe it’s really just a fake recipe used to fill what would otherwise be white space. Something to think about.
    Something *not* to think about is that last picture, which looks vaguely pornographic to me.

    • Not vaguely—it’s soooooo pornographic.

  5. Well I admit to being surprised — not only did this crazy recipe have enough popularity to be republished (more than once!), there are two other modern bloggers who have tasted it — Jen R. L. Disarray at “Maybe We Shouldn’t Be Eating This” (aptly named!), and Retro Ruth at “Midcentury Menu”. Nobody seems to have really liked it so far.

    (I actually have a final serving picture that looks a lot more naughty than that one, with one banana curving along the plate through a puddle of cheese sauce, but I didn’t post it. This was bad enough as it is.)

    • I figured nobody had made this before, since I know I would have remembered seeing that banana, with the happy pig and the crock of mustard under her arms. (Arms? Rhizomes?) I had no idea that a recipe like this would get reprinted in a different format!

  6. Brave, very brave…

  7. At least it didn’t call for a lot of different ingredients. I imagine it tastes exactly as one would imagine it would taste. I LOVE the banana illustrations on the recipe page. Carmen Banana?

  8. A friend of mine made this for me for my birthday this year! Somewhat disappointing in a way, as we were hoping for a peanut butter-catsup-chopped onion level of horribleness, and it really wasn’t that bad.

  9. Hope you don’t mind – I love this unique recipe from the past so I added it to my food photo site (Food Foto Gallery) for all to see. Attribution was given to you and I hope that you gain a few new visitors, as well.

    • Thanks for sharing and for your comment here. 🙂

  10. Okay. Alright. This is good, BUT–it’s time to double down. We need to make a batch of these, AND THEN, split them lengthwise, scoop out troughs in the banana innards (the banannards?), and stuff those bad boys with Li’l Ol’ Lady Latham’s Saucy Dill Dog Dugout mixture!


  11. […] than one friend has alerted me to weird banana recipes lately. This of course led me to dig out all of the banana cookbooks I could find in the […]

  12. This is one of my favorite recipes from childhood. We make the cheese sauce with cheddar cheese and go pretty light on the mustard. I have made it for friends. While it was not their favorite recipe, they did like it.(or at least said they did)

  13. […] we’ve already tried a recipe with banana and ham, we chose Eggs a la Crunch for this “romantic” recipe […]

  14. I don’t put the mustard on the ham. We love this. The sweet banana with the salty ham and cheesy sauce. I actually make toasted ham, cheese and banana sandwiches too. But in Australia we eat pineapple and ham on pizzas. We’re an adventurous lot when it comes to food.

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