Spam was introduced in 1937 by Hormel Foods right here in Minnesota.
The Austin based food company launched the luncheon meat to increase pork shoulder sales, an unpopular meat cut at the time. The iconic blue can contains pork with ham, salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrate. Already cooked, Spam can be served straight from the can or heated up.
During the second World War, Spam gained worldwide popularity when more than 100 million pounds were shipped abroad to feed allied troops. Margaret Thatcher even called it a “wartime delicacy.” High praise from the “Iron Lady. “
Through the war, the meat product was introduced to Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa, and the Philippines.
It quickly became a staple on the islands of Hawaii and is referred to by locals as the “Hawaiian Steak.” More Spam is consumed per capita in Hawaii than anywhere else in the United States. On the Island of Oahu, a Spam themed festival called the “Waikiki Spam Jam” is held annually.
In 1959, the 1 billionth can of Spam is produced. Spam made it on the TV screen in 1970 – featured in a Monty Python sketch, named after the canned meat. By 1972, two billion cans have sold. In Austin, Minnesota, the first Spam museum opened its doors in 1991. The following year, the Spambuger is presented to the world. In 1997, examples of Spam packaging were donated to the famed Smithsonian.
In 2012, the 8th billion can of Spam was made. That same year, Hormel introduced Spams first spokes-character, “SIR-CAN-A-LOT” (can’t make this stuff up.)
Today, Spam is sold in 44 different countries and comes in 15 varieties, including the infamous limited edition Pumpkin Spice.
What does Spam taste like?
Never having tried this Minnesota can-filled pork product, I went to an expert for advice on how to eat Spam – my good friend Becky. Becky is part Hawaiian and has been devouring Spam since I can remember. Thinking about Spam gives my hilarious friend, “goosebumps.” She the only person I know who owns a “Spam slicer.” A slicer dedicated to cut up her delectable luncheon meat. Becky recommended to fry up the cubed meat and offered a few of her favorite recipes.
I decided my first attempt at Spam needed to be on its own. As recommended, I fried up three slices of Spam, accompanied by eggs and toast.
The high sodium amount (790mg or 34% of DV) can be tasted on the first bite. Overall, it wasn’t too bad, like greasy ham with a hint of something else I couldn’t quite identify. As a first-timer, I wouldn’t recommend three large slices. One slice would have sufficed. I may be severely dehydrated for the rest of 2021.
Want to try Spam on your own? Here are the three recommended recipes by Spam expert, Becky. Enjoy!
SPAM® Loco Moco
1 (12-ouce) can SPAM® Classic, cut into 8 slices
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
1 cup chopped sweet onion
2 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
4 cups cooked rice
4 eggs, cooked sunny-side up
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 cup diced Roma tomato
In large skillet over medium heat, cook SPAM® Classic 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Remove from skillet. In same skillet, melt butter. Add mushrooms and onions and cook over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
Add beef broth and Worcestershire sauce to mushroom mixture; bring to boil.
In small bowl, mix cornstarch with water to make a smooth paste. Add to pan, whisking until combined and thickened.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide rice among 4 plates. Place 2 SPAM® Classic slices on top of rice. Top with gravy and 1 egg.
In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook SPAM® Classic slices 3 to 5 minutes or until browned. Add soy sauce sugar mixture, cook 1 to 2 minutes or until slices are glazed. Remove from pan.
Place 1/3 cup rice into musubi press or plastic lined SPAM® classic can on top of nori strip and press down. Remove press. Sprinkle rice with furikake, if desired. Top with SPAM® Classic slice. Wrap with nori. (Save remaining nori strip for future use.) Moisten one end slightly to fasten together. Repeat with remaining ingredients.