In recent years, retro foods have made a comeback, and one such classic is Spam – a canned meat product with a long history dating back to the 1930s. Originally introduced in 1937 during the Great Depression, Spam quickly became popular due to its affordability and convenience as fresh pork was expensive and hard to come by.
During World War II, the product was in high demand, with the military purchasing 150 million pounds of Spam by the war’s end. Despite its popularity, the origin of the name Spam is unclear, but it is thought to mean “shoulder of pork and ham” or “spiced ham.”
Spam has a huge following in Hawaii, where it is the biggest consumer of the product, and is used in various dishes, including a fried rice and seaweed pocket called Spam Musubi. South Korea is the second-largest consumer of Spam, and it’s used as an ingredient in a sushi roll known as kimbap.
Additionally, there are many varieties of Spam available, including Spam Lite, Spam Bacon, Spam Turkey, Spam Teriyaki, Spam Cheese, Spam Garlic, Spam Black Pepper, Spam Hickory Smoke, and Spam Portuguese Sausage.
If you’re curious about the taste of Spam, the product’s website describes it as “magic” and notes that it tastes similar to ham or pork roast. Spam can be grilled, baked, or fried, resulting in different tastes and textures.
The process of making Spam involves adding ingredients to pre-ground pork and ham before the mixture is canned, vacuum-sealed, and then cooked and cooled for three hours.
A museum dedicated to all things Spam is located in Austin, Minnesota, and the Spam product packaging was even donated to the Smithsonian in 1998. Despite its humble beginnings, over 8 billion cans of Spam have been sold worldwide, making it a food phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down.