18 April, 2011

Out Of The Can: Snow's Clam Chowder

The cylinder of condensed soup slid out of the can and into the pot with a wet sucking sound. Most of the jiggling bar of soup was made up of a kind of clammy gel, but a pool of clear, sticky fluid also ran to the bottom of the saucepan.  I added a can's measure of milk and stirred the chowder over a low flame, and rediscovered why I really hate Snow's clam chowder and hardly ever buy it.  

It's that clammy gel.  The stuff never really blends with the milk.  You stir it in, and it separates into chunks of gel; the chunks would be perfectly happy to remain just like that - big globby things that float around in the milk with their sick slimy mouthfeel and low tide taste profile. Eww. I always wind up taking the whisk to Snow's chowder and even then all that does is break up the gel into smaller and smaller gel bits - it never blends.


It wasn't always like this, you know.  I remember when Snow's was made here in New England and it was still good. There was always a can or two in the pantry at my Mom's house. Snow's Chowder was the standard against which all condensed canned clam chowders were measured from the time the company was founded in 1920. But by the 1990's,  (right about the time their corporate overlord Borden was being taken over by private equity firm KKR) I noticed that the quality and flavor of the product had changed.  Snow's Clam Chowder stopped being a pantry staple for me as the quality really started to slide.  

Nasty crap tuna.
Still, I buy a can now and again hoping that maybe the Snow's I knew as a kid will be eased back into production.  Unfortunately, the Snow's brand is owned by Bumble Bee now, so I  sincerely believe it's never ever going to return to its former deliciousness.  Bumble Bee are the  makers of the worst canned tuna on the market and it's the company that shut down the last remaining US sardine cannery after promising not to do so less than a year earlier.

8 comments:

Alan said...

Your articles are always informative and fair in their assessment. I learn a lot from reading your blog, Dave. So many of the fine American brands have fallen victim to change and a "profit above all else" attitude. It's sorry to see a brand like Snow's in this category. It's true that we need to form our own opinions, but hearing your educated opinion helps. Somehow, we need to turn this country back around and rediscover what made us great. It starts with little things like Snow's Chowder and Bumble Bee Tuna. Maybe CNN should start a "Dave's Cupboard" news show. I sound like Andy Rooney this morning.

Michael said...

I'm saddened to read this: although I've not had Snow's since I learned to fix clam chowder for myself, I did have a soft spot for the brand, which as you say used to offer a respectable product.

Stephanie/Sproffee said...

Whenever I got stuck with a gelled soup that wouldn't mix, I would take an immersion blender to it.

For clam chowder though, the best canned brand I've had is Campbell's chunky clam chowder.

Karen said...

Well I have to agree, Snow's clam chowder is awful!! Disgusting is a better word. I will not be buying it any more, my husband told me after the last can I bought, don't buy this again". I have eaten this chowder since I was a kid, but now it has no clams,small little pieces of potatoes. And the gel, well that's just disgusting. It is a shame everyone as given up on quality and now greed is all anyone thinks of. Profit is not always a good thing, because I am not going to be stupid again for buying it. Goodbye Snow's clam chowder!! And don't even get me started on the tuna!

Dave said...

For those of you looking for a decent canned New England clam chowder, there are still a couple of choices out there. Bar Harbor Foods (made in Maine) makes a very good canned chowder, and so does Olde Cape Cod (which is owned by Cains.)

I stay away from uncondensed "heat and eat" clam chowders like Campbell's Chunky and Progresso because they're light on the milk and heavy on the "white starch." Sometime in the past few years, commercial chowders have become overly reliant on wheat starch at the expense of real, milk-based, roux-thickened broth. It's a shame, because this situation also extends to many restaurants.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more about the drop in quality. Tiny potatoes and minute "clams" from the "deep north atlantic with our own fishing boats". Right...nobody I know gets their clams that way and I live right near the atlantic. So long Snows I will never buy it again.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more about the drop in quality. Tiny potatoes and minute "clams" from the "deep north atlantic with our own fishing boats". Right...nobody I know gets their clams that way and I live right near the atlantic. So long Snows I will never buy it again.

Anonymous said...

I just opened and tried to eat a can of Snow's clam chowder. I'm from New England so clearly I know clam chowder. Did I expect this to taste like that from a clams shack?? NO!! But I did expect clam chowder to have clams in it. If I took all the little bits of clam that were in this can it would equal, maybe a half a small clam. There was no taste of clam but there sure were a lot of mushy potatoes. The milky portion was about the same consistency as wallpaper paste and had about the same taste.
Never again and never a bumble product either if this is what they are going to pass off as food.
Cost was over $3.00 for this uneatable mess. Even the dogs refused it and like most dogs they'll whatever doesn't try to eat them first.