It sounds like a Good Idea: ham with an ultra-long shelf life in an attractive package. Unfortunately, that's about all it is.

Having always lead a simple life, the canned ham called, no, beckoned to me in Wal-Mart. So I bought one. What I discovered was truly disappointing.

Canned hams are little ovalish shaped lumps of pressed meat covered in some sort of fatty membrane. They have a very lumpy texture, high fat content, and are amazingly salty. So salty in fact, that I had to rinse the meat before eating to avoid becoming some sort of human jerky.

The hams aren't cheap either: a 1lb 8oz ham cost about $5. For $5 I could have gotten a real ham.

Granted, a real ham wouldn't last until Feb 27 of 2004 like my canned ham did, but the taste is sure a hell of a lot better.

My advice, unless you are white trash living in the sticks, avoid canned ham except for a rare adventure into processed meat.

Canned hams do have one redeeming quality: they come with this old school key to open the package. Food that requires a tool to open is really lacking in the food industry today.