Celebrating 80 years of Spam

Still popular in Hawaii all these years

Special edition SPAM can. Photo: Hormel.

Today is the 80th Anniversary of Spam — July 5, 2017.

Why do Hawaiians consume so much of it? It goes back to our plantation roots.

Potted meats were best for poor Sakadas like my grandfather and great uncles— indentured Ilocanos who labored in pineapple and sugarcane fields. And so it was for Japanese, Okinawans, Chinese, Koreans, Portuguese, and other plantation workers and their families.

Fresh meat was expensive. Potted meat was cheap.

While Spam did have a presence in Hawaii before, it was World War II that really proliferated the ubiquitous Spam can throughout the islands and on to Hawaii kitchen tables.

Shipments made it to Hawaii en route to other Pacific Rim areas where American soldiers and sailors were fighting. A lot of those cans stayed in the Islands to feed locally stationed servicemen.

So popular is Spam that today, you can stop in McDonald’s of Hawaii and order the Islands’ favorite breakfast: Spam, Eggs and Rice!

You’ll see Spam as a topping on another Hawaiian favorite — the ramen-like Saimin. And forget hot dogs and hamburgers. The most popular food on the go in Hawaii is Spam musubi. You can find my recipe here.

Spam is also no stranger in kitchens throughout the Philippines, Japan, and Korea — long after American servicemen left.

Illustration: Hormel.
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