75 Years of … Spam

As I was getting ready to fix breakfast this morning, I noticed something on a can in my cupboard

http://i848.photobucket.com/albums/ab49/norbrookc/Fail/spam.jpg

Yes, this year, Spam has been around for 75 years.

It got its start as the answer to a “what do we do with this?” question.  At the time, Hormel had a sizable business with canned ham, but there were a lot of leftovers from that, as well as the pork shoulder.   Which lead to creating … Spam.    It was World War 2 that saw it become a part of the world’s cuisine.

The residents of the state of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the United States. On average, each person on Guam consumes 16 tins of Spam each year and consumption is similar in the CNMI. Guam, Hawaii, and Saipan, the CNMI’s principal island, have the only McDonald’s restaurants that feature Spam on the menu. In Hawaii, Burger King began serving Spam in 2007 to compete with the local McDonald’s chains. In Hawaii, Spam is so popular it is sometimes referred to as “The Hawaiian Steak”. One popular Spam dish in Hawaii is Spam musubi, where cooked Spam is combined with rice and nori seaweed and classified as onigiri.

Spam was introduced into the aforementioned areas, in addition to other islands in the Pacific such as Okinawa and the Philippine Islands, during the U.S. military occupation after World War II. Since fresh meat was difficult to get to the soldiers on the front, World War II saw the largest use of Spam when it was served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It’s often derided as a “poor person’s meat,” and sales often serve as an economic indicator.  It’s one of those iconic foods that seems to be just a part of everyday life, that we mostly ignore or take for granted.  I remember my father being extremely fond of it, and my aunt remembers that when he came home from the military, he drove their mother nuts by insisting on it at every meal.   I keep a can of it on hand, just because sometimes I get nostalgic, sometimes it “just works” in a recipe, and sometimes I’m just in the mood for it.  It does keep well, and has a lot of flexibility.    It’s been around for 75 years, and doesn’t look to be slowing down.

Oh, and this gives me a reason to post a Monty Python skit.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “75 Years of … Spam

  1. Vic78

    I was about to have a heart attack. I thought this was going to be aTwinkie story. “Spam is going out of business.” It’s just the 75 year anniversary.

    Spam rocks. Only the initiated will understand. The people that had to stretch dollars know what I’m talking about.

  2. pancheetah

    several years ago I was playing around in the kitcjhen and made a Spam pie. Cheap cheap cheap…mix Spam, mashed potatoes and Velveeta (also good as rocket fuel propellant), place in a pie crust and bake at 325 for 20-30 mins. Sprinkle something on top the last ten minutes so it doesn’t look like something out of a douche bag. it’s good and filling and cheap, cheap cheap.

    • Velveeta is another one of my memories. ;-) It does do a good job of making various cheese sauces. It melts in nicely, unlike some of the more expensive “real cheeses.” :lol: One of my family’s “traditional dishes” is “cheese and peas.” It’s something my mother made, because none of us would eat peas otherwise. It’s pretty simple: milk, cheese, canned or frozen peas. Cheap, too. ;-)

      • aquagranny911

        Velveeta slices on crackers was a huge treat from my childhood. We didn’t get that too often. I don’t care what it is made from. Velveeta on soda crackers still takes me back to those days when my parents had a little extra money & we got this treat.

  3. It’s tolerable but I wouldn’t lose any sleep if it went the way of the Twinkie.

  4. aquagranny911

    This diary made me laugh so much. My Dad & his brothers also came home from WWll with a taste for Spam. Mama would bread the slices in masa & fry them in bacon grease which is the only way she would agree to cook it. The men would wrap the fried Spam slices in a tortilla with some chilies and refritos & chow down!

    • Hmm… that sounds … really good! :lol: I’ll have to try that. ;-)

      Of course, we’re not the only ones with a taste for Spam:

      On Sunday afternoon, while playing golf with friends at Oahu’s Olomana Golf Links, Obama, 47, who grew up on the island, stopped at a snack bar and bought two hot dogs, soft drinks and two orders of a local luncheon specialty called spam musubi – Spam and a fried egg on a bed of rice, held together with a strip of dried seaweed,

      :lol:

  5. aquagranny911

    LOL! You were in the military. Did you eat SOS (Shit on a Shingle) or otherwise dried beef & gravy on toast? My brothers & Hubby all liked that for some reason.

    My Mama made it this way:

    She used beef jerky that she softened over night in boiling water. In the morning she made a flour & powdered milk gravy with bacon grease, added the beef jerky some chili peppers and served it on corn tortillas.

    A Latina woman always thinks she can improve any dish by adding a few chilies & a tortilla, lol!

    • That is one of the few dishes I can’t stand. :-D My mother (a Navy veteran) loved it, and would make it on a regular basis. My father liked it, and some of my sisters do. Personally, I just ended up fixing something myself. ;-) While it was available in the breakfast line when I was in, I always managed to avoid it. :lol:

      • see above

        I remember this only it was made with chipped beef in a white sauce. Chipped beef as I remember was very thin slices of something with kind of a reddish color and precooked. Whether is was beef I don’t have a clue. I think we put it over potatoes and I remember liking. A trip down “food memory lane”.

        • That’s it. Chipped beef is a dried, salted beef. “SOS” is that in a white sauce of some sort. I once bought a small jar of it to use as “dog treats,” and the dogs wouldn’t eat it. :lol: I also remember my father getting “the death stare” from my mother one morning when he inadvertently referred to it by its slang name in front of his young children. ;-)

  6. My husband is from Hawaii, and is Portuguese/Hawaiian. He grew up there during WWII, and Spam has always been a staple of his diet. I kept it on hand for a bunch of years long ago when I was a barely-scraping-by single working parent. Spam continues to be a staple in our cupboards, eaten only by Hubby, and only now and again. 75 — amazing!!

  7. see above

    I remember it as emergency food. Not sure what todays version would be like with all the junk pumped into critters these days.

    • It’s pretty tasty with eggs. :-D It still is a good “emergency food.” It stores well, is in a nice convenient can, and it doesn’t need cooking (if necessary).