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LET’S CELEBRATE SPAM!

I’M NOT ENCOURAGING use of the Internet sewer. Rather, I’m thinking of real Spam, the canned luncheon meat sold around the world and celebrated in a recent Voice of America video, “Spam No Longer Just Luncheon Meat for Sandwiches,” by Elizabeth Lee, VOA, May 31, 2021.

This and following images from Voice of America.

Here are tidbits on Spam, its history, and its international cuisine despite a bad linguistic rap.

Spam Goes to War. As described by Wikipedia, “Spam (stylized as SPAM) is a brand of canned cooked pork made by Hormel Food Corporation. It was introduced by Hormel in 1937 and gained popularity worldwide after its use during World War II.”

Spamville, part of the U.S. Army Expedition forces in WWII.

VOA’s Elizabeth Lee notes, “The global impact of this luncheon meat started during the second World War when the U.S. shipped more than 45 million kgs [50,000 tons] abroad to feed Allied troops.” 

Spam Worldwide. Spam’s popularity, especially in Asia, keeps growing. And Lee observes, “… 2020 was the sixth consecutive year where Spam saw record sales in the U.S.” 

Lee visited Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe, a Los Angeles restaurant that originally had two Spam offerings on its menu. I’ll bet one was a favorite of mine: Spam Musubi, teriyaki-sauced Spam on sushi rice with a seaweed wrap.

Spam Musubi. Image from spam.com.

Customers loved the Spam and asked for more. Owner Paul Wahba says they now have 14 different ways of serving Spam.

Several of the Spam offerings at Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe, Los Angeles.

“We started out,” Wahba said, “just going to a local store, like give me five cans a week.” Today, each week he gets 100 cases of Spam. “That’s 2400 cans of Spam,” Lee notes, “Customers can even find Spam burritos and tacos.”

Vegan Spam. Hormel now has 11 varieties of Spam, including Hot & Spicy, Lite, Bacon, and 25% Less Sodium. There’s also OmniPork, a vegan Spam. (Perfect for the likes of me; I’m sort of vegetarian except for sausage.) OmniPork Luncheon meat is made of non-GMO soy bean, with beetroot added to give the proper color.

Image from OmniFoods.

But What About That Other Kind? Merriam-Webster defines spam as “unsolicited commercial messages (such as email, text messages, or Internet postings) sent to a large number of recipients or posted in a large number of places.” 

The word is both a noun (first known use, 1990) and a verb (1994). M-W credits the British Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit “in which a chanting of the word Spam overrides the other dialogue.”

Wikipedia discusses the history of spamming, including pre-Internet mass distributions of one thing or another (e.g., a dentist’s telegraph ad in May 1864).

Trademark Considerations. Wikipedia writes, “Hormel Foods Corporation, the maker of SPAM luncheon meat, does not object to the Internet use of the term ‘spamming.’ However, they did ask that the capitalized word ‘Spam’ be reserved to refer to their product and trademark. By and large, this request is obeyed in forums that discuss spam.”

Let’s celebrate Spam, its history, international cuisine, and also Hormel’s wise recognition that familiarity of a product name is a plus. Imagine the brouhaha if rolls-roycing meant annoying car trips. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021 

5 comments on “LET’S CELEBRATE SPAM!

  1. Jack Albrecht
    June 5, 2021

    Even when I ate meat I didn’t like Spam. Great to hear they have a vegan version now!

    • Mike B
      June 11, 2021

      Vegan Spam strikes me as being in the same category as Vegan Cheese: the concept just does not fit.

      • Jack Albrecht
        June 14, 2021

        Vegan cheese used to be pretty boring or chalky. Not anymore. I had a vegan camembert salad over the weekend, and there is a vegan gouda with herbs that I like even better. We have served them to dairy eaters and they can’t tell the difference.

        Vegan “meat” is similar. I won’t say a vegan burger is “healthy” as it is super processed, but there is at least no cholesterol!. The taste also fools meat-eaters (my father-in-law is our usual “test case”). The advantages for the climate are massive, not to mention for the animals that are bred into horrible conditions for short brutal lives before being slaughtered.

  2. M. Pat Bentley
    June 5, 2021

    Dennis, the link below will take you to the story of Austin’s spamarama. There was a smaller version in Dallas for years by the advertising community.

    https://www.kut.org/austin/2019-03-14/what-ever-happened-to-austins-spamarama

  3. simanaitissays
    June 14, 2021

    Thanks, all, for thoughtful comments. I bought a classic Spam, just for fun. Haven’t opened it yet; plan to fry with mustard/sugar sauce. The boeuf faux is fine as a burger. I bought a lb of bulk, but haven’t tried it as ground faux.
    Jack, your cheese comments are tempting me to try it.

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