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