Thursday 21 September 2017

SPAM (1937)

SPAM in a can
Launched 1937

Way before email spam, text message spam, search engine spam and almost any other kind of spam you could think of was the tinned meat SPAM, launched in 1937.

A technological marvel of its time, SPAM was precooked and shelf stable, meaning that it didn’t require refrigeration. The cuboid tin meant that it was easy to ship in bulk, and SPAM ended up being a worldwide success. But what is it exactly?

The meaning of the word “SPAM” is a trade secret, but is possibly some combination of “Pork” (the main ingredient) and “hAM” (which comes ways down the list). Hormel foods used the unpopular pork shoulder cut and added starch, water, salt, ham, sugar, flavourings and other additives to create a food that people either seem to love or hate.

SPAM found a particular niche during the Second World War with millions of tins being shipped out to allied troops and civilians. Today, over 400 million cans of SPAM are sold each year, which is almost enough to circle the earth. Hugely popular in US territories in the Pacific and Puerto Rico, SPAM has also found a niche elsewhere in the Pacific Rim and also the United Kingdom. The product is sold in 44 counties worldwide in 15 different varieties.

SPAM varieties
For real SPAM lovers there is even a SPAM museum. But not everyone is a SPAM fan, and in the classic form it is quite high in sodium and fat, however low-fat and reduced sodium varieties are also available plus many other types. There’s a version of SPAM made from turkey, one with bacon, various spicy versions, smoked SPAM, cheesy SPAM, garlic SPAM and even teriyaki SPAM to use in sashimi. If you don’t want it sliced, you can have it in a spread too.

For good or bad, SPAM helped to change the way that food ended up with consumers. In some parts of the world, SPAM fundamentally changed diets… also for good or bad. Increasingly consumers began to demand more and more convenience when it came to foodstuffs, and SPAM helped to pioneer that change.

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