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“Hot in Recession: Chocolate, Running Shoes, and Spam”

By Mark D. Roberts | Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Now there’s a combination you don’t see very often: Chocolate, Running Shoes, and Spam. No, no, not the Spam that fills you inbox with donations from Africa and illicit invitations. This recent AP story referred to Spam, the stuff you eat. And, apparently, you and I are eating more and more of it these days.

Why is this happening? According to the AP, “Consumers have trimmed household budgets and postponed cars, major appliances and other big-ticket items. Yet they still are willing to shell out for small indulgences and goods that make life more comfortable at home, where they are spending more time.” Spam must be one of those “small indulgences.”

I expect some of you are plenty familiar with Spam. Others may not have tasted its delights. When I was growing up, every now and then my mother would fix Spam for dinner. Maybe she knew that if she served Spam sometimes then we’d be more grateful for our usal fare of natural meat products. Or maybe it was her secret plot to turn me and my siblings into vegetarians. (Actually, I didn’t dislike Spam as much as this suggests. When sliced, fried, and served with eggs, it was rather like bacon, ham, and sausage rolled into one.)

A few years ago I did a short piece on Spam for my blog. It was actually a rant about email Spam. But I thought I’d run it again, just for fun.

A Little More About Spam

Why, I wonder, do we call unwanted, junk e-mails and the like “spam”? The consensus of opinion is that the name is based, not on the luncheon meat, but on the song that was a part of a skit on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. This song included a bunch of Vikings singing: “Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!” To hear a bit of this marvelous number, click here (.mov, 96 K). The point would seem to be that spam is a bothersome invasion into one’s consciousness that keeps on going without end. That would describe Internet spam pretty accurately, I think.

Of course Spam is also and originally a luncheon meat. My mother would serve it to us once in a while. Sometimes we’d have Spam as the main course for dinner. She liked Spam, I think, because it reminded her of her childhood. It was a common food during World War II. (Photo: An actual ad for Spam from the 1940s. Makes you want to run right out and buy a case. Mmmmmm.)

What is Spam, really, you wonder? Well, there is a nifty Spam website, hosted by Hormel Foods, the creators of Spam, that will answer this question, and almost anything else you might wonder about Spam (if you wonder about Spam at all). Spam is a combination of pork shoulder and ham, along with “secret spices.” The name “Spam” was thought up by Kenneth Daigneau, who won $100 in a Hormel “name this wonderful luncheon meat” contest.

Spam, by the way, debuted in 1937. Since that time Hormel has sold over 7 billion cans of Spam. Just think about it. That’s just a little less than one can of Spam for every human being on earth.

If you’d like to learn more about Spam, you can always visit the Spam Museum. It’s in Austin, Minnesota, near the Iowa state line. That’s over 16,000 square feet of Spam stuff. Wow!

More fun, perhaps, would be an experience with the Spammobile. I wonder if you can rent one of these for a summer RV trek? (Photo: The Spammobile. No joke! But, according to the official Spam website, the Spammobiles were retired from service in 2008. How sad!)

Last time I visited Las Vegas, I was wandering through the casino of my hotel. Lo and behold, I spotted a slot machine that surprised me. It had a Spam theme. Wow! Now there’s a delectable combination: Las Vegas and Spam.

I didn’t play that slot, since I’m not inclined to gamble, even when Spam is involved. But I must say I did wonder: If you hit the jackpot on this machine, what would you win? Money? Or Spam? Cans of Spam! “Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!”

Well, that’s about enough for today on Spam. If any of my readers eat Spam, and especially if you like it, why don’t you put up a comment about your experiences of Spam. When did you start eating it? What is your favorite Spam recipe?

Topics: Fun |

6 Responses to ““Hot in Recession: Chocolate, Running Shoes, and Spam””

  1. “Hot in Recession: Chocolate, Running Shoes, and Spam” | www … | Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 8:15 am

    […] See original here: “Hot in Recession: Chocolate, Running Shoes, and Spam” | www … […]

  2. Dianne Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Being a MN native, Spam was a required staple of my childhood. We had 6 kids in the family and lived off Dad’s sales commissions - so ocassionally there was Spam. Fried Spam sandwiches - YUM!!! Spam and eggs are also good. My husband and I both still crave it from time to time and make a Saturday lunch out of it. The Spam museum is an absolute hoot and you can buy flavors of Spam there that are not usually in stores. I understand that Hawaiians think very highly of their Spam and have recipes that simply cannot be made without it. If you haven’t tried it, you must screw up your courage and give it a shot. Enjoy!

  3. Jim Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Here in Spam is considered a basic food staple. We eat it fried like bacon for breakfast, cut up in little pieces in our ramen (noodle soup), or surrounded with rice and seaweed in a musubi (like a sushi, only more substantial). It’s added to a lot of Asian dishes, especially stir-fried dishes.

    Like a lot of the rest of the Pacific and South Seas, we got our taste for the stuff during World War II, when that was what was available to eat, whether you were a GI or a civilian.

    Hawaii is known as the Spam Capital of the World, since we are the largest consumer. You can even go to a food festival celebrating Spam, the “Waikiki Spam Jam”: Spam is on the menus of both McDonalds and Burger King here.

  4. Jim Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Sorry, left out the word “Hawaii” in the first sentence.

  5. Jim Says:
    May 26th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    P.S. the slot machines you saw were almost certainly aimed at gamblers from Hawaii. People from Hawaii are probably among the best customers in Vegas, since Vegas is our number one vacation spot and Hawaii locals (although it doesn’t extend to yours truly) are known for their attraction to gambling. Ironically, Hawaii and Utah are, I understand,the only states that totally prohibit gambling (even a state-run lottery). For Hawaii that’s probably because if we had gambling, everyone would quit working in order to try win the jackpot. Seriously, though, if we had legalized gambling here it would be a disaster for Vegas. There’s also a large expatriate population of people from Hawaii living in Vegas–they generally migrated there during the tough economic times Hawaii had during the Nineties (when we, along with Japan, went through the “Lost Decade,” somewhat similar to what the U.S. national economy is facing now).

  6. J Falconer Says:
    May 27th, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Thanks Rev. M. Roberts & the Reply posts, I read & heard Spam was a favorite food for people who lived in Hawaii full-time. It seems it would be easy to store, fairly affordable, & easy to keep fresh with the Hawaii climate & weather. I’ve never heard of Spam bad-mouthed taste, quality, versatility in snacks, meal making etc. It’s nice it is popular & flexible. The mainland can’t compete with the beauty, casual lifestyle, frendliness of Hawaii & most of the people residing there. Hawaiians are truly blessed & PS Im jealous! Ha! Have a great rest of the week & soon summer. Thanks again for this website & readers input!


Thanks for your willingness to make a comment. Note: I do not moderate comments before they are posted, though they are automatically screened for profanities, spam, etc., and sometimes the screening program holds comments for moderation even though they're not offensive. I encourage open dialogue and serious disagreement, and am always willing to learn from my mistakes. I will not delete comments unless they are extraordinarily rude or irrelevant to the topic at hand. You do need to login in order to make a comment, because this cuts down on spam. You are free to use a nickname if you wish. Finally, I will eventually read all comments, but I don't have the time to respond to them on a consistent basis because I've got a few other demands on my time, like my "day job," my family, sleep, etc.

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