My Bologna Has a First Name: It's F-O-R-G-O-T-T-E-N

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Anecdotal evidence of bologna's decreasing popularity is borne out by retail statistics, too. Randall's has stopped carrying bologna in their delis altogether, and the deli manager at the Midtown location said that she couldn't remember the last time they'd carried the meat.

"It's not as popular as it used to be," says Pablo Valqui, deli and dry foods buyer for the downtown location of Spec's, that sprawling store where you can find nearly any food or beverage no matter how obscure. "What we sell a lot of is German bologna -- and that one is a similar thing to bologna -- and we also have Italian mortadella. We sell it, but we don't have the traditional kind of bologna that you would find in supermarkets."

To demonstrate bologna's waning popularity, he compares sales figures of "regular" bologna versus Italian mortadella over the last two quarters. "We sell maybe a pound a day," of the regular stuff, he says. "Twenty pounds over the last six months."

The mortadella? Valqui says that Spec's sells 60 pounds a month, triple the amount. And even that isn't the deli's best seller by a long shot. What people prefer to buy instead are the German sausages: "The purity of them is probably a big reason for people to prefer those," Valqui says. "Better quality...and image."

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Katharine Shilcutt