Sugardale exits the bologna market and fans of Cleveland bologna are dismayed

·3 min read
Sugardale, a division of FreshMark in Massillon, has discontinued its bologna products after a century in the market.
Sugardale, a division of FreshMark in Massillon, has discontinued its bologna products after a century in the market.

There was a time when bologna was a household staple.

It kept well. It was inexpensive.

It could be served cold or fried between two slices of bread, eaten at home or school or work. Even restaurants served it.

Jim Hillibish, the late Canton Repository writer and editor, wrote in a 2014 column about a resurgence in bologna sandwiches: "It was the perfect diner/bar food requiring almost no effort to serve on thick slices of Norcia or City Bakery bread."

Hillibish: A historic school lunch is roaring back

And he added: "Our fetish is due to the Sugardale-Superior's Meats dynamo in Stark County, home of the best-ever bologna — four styles. There's no claim they invented it; they only perfected it."

Like others, Hillibish might've been dismayed to learn Sugardale has left the bologna market and stopped production on all bologna products. That includes one of its best sellers, a longtime Ohio favorite, Cleveland bologna.

It's true.

No baloney here.

'We are proud of our heritage.'

"The decision to exit the bologna category, made in late 2021, was a difficult one that reflects the need for us to focus on the items that appeal to the greatest number of consumers," said Robert Hite, a company spokesman.

Sugardale, founded in Canton in 1920, made bologna for nearly a century. Now headquartered in Massillon, a division of Fresh Mark, the company still makes ham, bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni and salami.

In an email, Hite added: "We are proud of our heritage in bologna and appreciate the loyalty our customers showed over many years. While presently there are no plans to reintroduce bologna, we are always evaluating the connection our products make with customers and how they fit with consumer eating trends."

No matter how you slice it, though, that decision has left customers disappointed.

Best tasting bologna

Some customers posted their feelings on Facebook — on individual pages and in private groups.

"Sugardale will no longer be making Cleveland Bologna ... I'm devastated," a science teacher said on his page.

A retired police chief said: "Well rant of the day ... today I find out they quit making Cleveland Bologna."

"That was the best," a sales agent posted.

Dottie Lynch, 69, of Canton Township said she remembers her late mother Mary Davis stockpiling the Sugardale bologna, buying it bulk, in their house while growing up in the 1950s.

"In junior high and high school, I would come home and make fried bologna and cheese sandwiches after school," Lynch said.

Lynch and her husband Tom, 72, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month, raised four children. And she said Sugardale bologna remained a staple in their own home.

"My mother and I used to buy it in large chunks and slice it ourselves or grind it to make bologna salad," Lynch said. "(Sugardale bologna's) texture and taste is so much better than all other brands out there."

Lynch and others hope Sugardale brings bologna back.

"If enough complaints come in, they might re-examine their decisions," she said.

Reach Benjamin Duer at 330-580-8567 or ben.duer@cantonrep.com

Follow on Twitter @bduerREP

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Sugardale stopped making bologna: Customers are dismayed