Hot or cold? Either way, the ham sandwich is still America's favorite. Ham tops the list of the 15 favorite sandwiches, followed by peanut butter or peanut butter and jelly, hamburgers, cheese and turkey, according to the 2000 National Eating Trends.

Ham is a versatile meat that users can flavor, heat or combine with many other ingredients. About 40 percent of all ham sandwiches are heated. The most popular addition is cheese, found on more than half of all ham sandwiches. For condiments, about 40 percent of all ham sandwiches are made with a mayonnaise-style spread and about 30 percent include mustard. Only one in seven include lettuce. Consumers choose white bread twice as often as wheat bread.

More than 10 years of research consistently shows that ham sandwiches top the list across the United States. On average, ham sandwiches are eaten twice a month, and they're usually made with a ham luncheon meat.

Not only is ham a favorite, but research by the Chicago-based NPD Group, shows that about 36 percent of all sandwiches eaten at home or by carryout, are made with pork products, specifically ham, hot dog, bologna, hero/sub, salami, sausage or bacon/BLT.

Most Americans – nine out of 10 – eat sandwiches regularly. The average person eats:

Three sandwiches a week, with one of those made from pork.

Two ham sandwiches every month.

Hot dogs and bologna sandwiches fall just under once a month, about nine times a year.

In the past year, consumption of ham sandwiches, hot dogs and hero/subs have remained stable, while bologna sandwiches fell 8 percent. Meanwhile egg/egg salad and chicken sandwiches and hamburgers increased consumption. Peanut butter/PBJ, turkey and cheese sandwiches lost favor.

This data shows that consumers don't think ham is boring and overused. "This is positive reinforcement that there is a definite market for traditional ham products," says Karen Boillot, director of retail marketing for the National Pork Producers Council. "The strength of ham will hopefully allow us to find new applications for ham in both the foodservice and retail sectors."
The research will give the National Pork Board ammunition with these industries to say, "here is why you should be doing more with ham and we have the numbers to back it up," says Boillot. NPPC already has conducted research with fresh ham looking at it from the consumer standpoint. The key is to develop products that consumers recognize and will pick up.

For more information about the ham sandwich and consumption trends, check out NPPC's Web site at www.nppc.org.