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What the hell is SPAM?

さてどれから食べようか...
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 Being a complete neophyte with anything “techie” I was recently asked by a friend why I had not responded to her Evite. When I told her I never received it, she told me to “check my SPAM folder’.  

What the hell is SPAM? My only knowledge of SPAM was the light pink mystery meat that came in the blue squarish can. SPAM, an acronym for “Spiced Meat and Ham” or more jokingly, “Specially Processed Artificial Ham”, “Something Posing as Meat” or “Spare Parts of Animal Meat” was first introduced into the world in 1937 by Hormel Foods.  

SPAM became increasingly popular during World War II since fresh meat was difficult to get to the front line. SPAM traveled easily enough and was guaranteed to be fresh in its vacuumed packed tin cans. 

During and after WWII, a troupe of Ex G.I women known as the “Hormel Girls” traveled extensively from coast to coast promoting SPAM and convincing many Americans that buying and eating SPAM was “patriotic”.  Americans did their civil duty and bought and ate SPAM like it was going out of style. What’s more American than a tin can full of processed meat? In fact, according to Pat Browne’s book, of The Guide to the United States Popular Culture, (2001)  an average of 3.8 cans of  SPAM are consumed every second in the United States!  

SPAM is extremely popular in several Asian countries and in many islands in the Pacific. In fact our very own state of Hawaii has the highest rate per capita of SPAM eaters in the entire United States. The locals lovingly refer to SPAM as “Hawaiian Steak”. In 2007,  Burger King in Hawaii  introduced SPAM on its menu as a means of competing with Mc Donalds.  

In Asia, SPAM continues to be popular. In South Korea, SPAM is considered a delicacy and can often be seen in store windows alongside European luxuries like wine and fine chocolate. In Japan, China and the Philippines, SPAM is often eaten, pan-fried and served with rice and eggs. In Hong Kong, SPAM is regularly served with instant noodles and fried eggs.  

Although I am loathe to try it, I may need to buy a can or two purely for research purposes. I am told that the gelatinous “goo” supposedly goes away if you fry it until it gets crispy. Plus it only has 2 grams of carbs per serving. I was also assured that if I like bacon (which I do), then I will love SPAM.  

As most of you probably already know, “SPAM” – the food, is very different from “spam” the email term, as I recently discovered during my research. According to Hormel Foods, SPAM should be spelled with all capital letters and should be used as an adjective – as in “SPAM luncheon meat”. 

Spam (spelled with lower case letters) as most of you computer literates already know,  is the use, or in most cases the abuse, of unsolicited electronic messages and media. 

I checked my spam folder and found my friends Evite. I wonder what other invitations I missed due to spam?  

Chow for now!  

1 thought on “What the hell is SPAM?”

  1. Oh yes, I remember eating fried SPAM with eggs, and fried rice for breakfast as a youngster in a Filipino household. When we went to Oahu, vendors sold fried SPAM, too! The kids tried it and agreed that it tasted like bacon.

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