Spam (the Meat, Not the Mail) Is Getting Totally Trendy
Raise your hand if you like Spam. Anyone?
Actually, some of you out there must be raising your hands. According to several recent reports, the retro canned meat product, which made its grocery-store debut in 1937, is making a comeback — perhaps even a major comeback.
Spam, long derided as a mystery meat, actually contains, according to parent company Hormel Foods, only “six simple ingredients”: “pork with ham, salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar and sodium nitrite.” Its popularity spread thanks to GIs stationed around the world during World War II, and the Minnesota-made tinned meat product is now sold in 44 countries; it has apparently built up a huge fan base in several particular countries and cultures.
On the island of Guam, for instance, the average Spam consumption works out to 16 cans per person, more Spam per capita than in any other country. It’s used in many different dishes there, including Spam fried rice. Guam has been called “the Spam capital of the world.”
In South Korea, the second-largest consumer of Spam in the world (behind the United States), Spam is considered a luxury, peddled by celebrities on TV and traditionally given as gifts around the harvest holiday season and the Lunar New Year — sometimes presented in gold-trimmed gift boxes.
And then there’s Hawaii’s embrace of Spam. In Hawaii, Spam is ubiquitous: It’s available at fast-food restaurants, fancy eateries, supermarkets and convenience stores. (There’s even an annual Spam Jam festival in Waikiki.) Hormel says it sells 7 million cans of Spam per year in Hawaii alone — and there are 15 different varieties of Spam available there, more than anywhere else in the U.S.
In the past few years, Hawaiian Spam staples like Spam Musubi and Spam fried rice have been on offer at some New York restaurants. In 2014, the website Gothamist reported that Spam had grown trendy (and not ironically so) with “hip” restaurantgoers.
Want to cook with Spam at home? You can. (Get it?) Click here for recipes.