What’s the deal with SPAM and Hawaii?
Hawaii consumes more SPAM than any other state in the USA, in total it comes to about SEVEN MILLION cans consumed a year! But why is this the case? Why does Hawaii seem to love a delicious can of mystery meat that other states seem to avoid like the plague? Let’s find out.
The name SPAM is a shortened version of “Spiced Ham”, and in addition to this, Army soldiers would refer to SPAM as “Special Army Meat”. During World War 2 SPAM was given in surplus to USA troops in Hawaii. SPAM was chosen for it’s very long shelf life, and the lack of refrigeration needs that it requires. This made it the ideal choice for having a super reliable emergency military food for soldiers stationed in Hawaii. Plus, when soldiers are used to eating MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) packs, they won’t back down from trying something called Spiced Ham!
If we look at the ingredients for SPAM, we can see that it is actually not a mystery meat like many may think. It primarily consists of ham/pork, salt, water, and modified potato starch. SPAM was invented 83 years ago, during the great depression. It was invented by Jay Hormel, who was the son to George Hormel, whom founded the Hormel company. They pioneered canned pork products in Austin Minn. in the latter half of the 1920s. Originally, SPAM was aimed at housewives to wanted a cheap quick meal requiring almost zero prep. The military soon picked up SPAM for it’s trait of not needing refrigeration.
So, after World War 2 was over, Hawaii’s military bases and SPAM had a huge stockpile of SPAM leftover. To sell more cans, they had huge advertisement campaigns, such as the Hormel Girls and the SPAM-Eating Vikings in the 1970s Monty Pythons Flying Circus skit. They sold their billionth can in 1959.
Add all of this together, and having SPAM’s hometurf being the United States soldier’s bellies in Hawaii, this quickly turned into a massively popular dish in Hawaii. One quality of SPAM that also appeals to Hawaii residents, is the cheap cost! It already costs an arm and a leg to live in Hawaii, so having something as cheap of SPAM is perfect for many! With many innovations such as the SPAM musubi, SPAM and eggs, and with SPAM working it’s way into many dishes even sushi, it’s no wonder why it is so wildly popular in Hawaii!
Hope you learned something about this very interesting canned meal, and I hope you have a SPAM filled week!