Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spam, The Canned Pre-Cooked Meat, Not Unsolicited e-mail

Spam, The Canned Pre-Cooked Meat, Not Unsolicited e-mail

Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam's gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock.

In the United States in the aftermath of World War II, a troupe of former servicewomen was assembled by Hormel Foods to promote Spam from coast to coast. The group was known as the Hormel Girls and associated the food with being patriotic. In 1948, two years after its formation, the troupe had grown to 60 women with 16 forming an orchestra. The show went on to become a radio program where the main selling point was Spam. The Hormel Girls were disbanded in 1953. Spam is still quite popular in the United States, but is sometimes associated with economic hardship because of its relatively low cost.

On average, each person on Guam consumes 16 tins of Spam each year and consumption is similar in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Hawaii, and Saipan, the CNMI's principal island. These areas have the only McDonald's restaurants that feature Spam on the menu.

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. (Some soldiers referred to Spam as "ham that didn't pass its physical" and "meatloaf without basic training".)  Soldiers commonly referred to Spam as "Special Army Meat" due to its introduction during the war. Surpluses of Spam from the soldiers' supplies made their way into native diets. Consequently, Spam is a unique part of the history and effects of U.S. influence in the Pacific.

The residents of the state of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the United States. Hawaiian Burger King restaurants 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.

The perception of Spam in Hawaii is very different from that on the mainland. Despite the large number of mainlanders who consume Spam, and the various recipes that have been made from it, Spam, along with most canned food, is often stigmatized on the mainland as "poor people's food". In Hawaii, similar canned meat products such as Treet are considered cheaper versions of canned meat than Spam. This is a result of Spam having the initial market share and its name sounding more convincing to consumers.

In these locales, varieties of Spam unavailable in other markets are sold. These include Honey Spam, Spam with Bacon, and Hot and Spicy Spam.

In the CNMI, lawyers from Hormel have threatened legal action against the local press for running articles alleging ill-effects of high Spam consumption on the health of the local population.

Spam that is sold in North America, South America, and Australia is produced in Austin, Minnesota (also known as "Spam Town USA") and in Fremont, Nebraska. Austin, Minnesota has a restaurant with a menu devoted exclusively to Spam, called "Johnny's SPAMarama Menu".

In 1963, Spam was introduced to various private and public schools in South Florida as cheap food and even for art sculptures. Due to the success of the introduction, Hormel Foods also introduced school "color-themed" spam. The first being a blue and green variety which is still traditionally used in some private schools of South Florida.

In 2007, the seven billionth can of Spam was sold.

Text Credit: Wikipedia || Image Credit: TJSLabs