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Place of origin
|Creators||Hormel Foods Corporation|
|Hot or Cold|
|Pork shoulder and ham|
Place of origin
|Creators||Hormel Foods Corporation|
|Hot or Cold|
|Pork shoulder and ham|
Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam's gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock.
The product has become part of many jokes and urban legends about mystery meat, which has made it part of pop culture and folklore. Through a Monty Python sketch, in which Spam is portrayed as ubiquitous and inescapable, its name has come to be given to electronic spam, especially spam email.
Ken Daigneau, brother of a Hormel executive, named the product in a 1937 contest and won a $100 prize. Hormel claims that the meaning of the name "is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives", but popular beliefs are that the name is an abbreviation of "spiced ham" or "shoulders of pork and ham".
Spam is typically sold in cans with a net weight of 340 grams (12 ounces). A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of original Spam provides 1,300 kJ (310 Calories or kilocalories), 13 grams of protein (26% DV), 3 grams of carbohydrates (1% DV), 27 grams of total fat (41% DV), including 10 grams of saturated fat (49% DV). The cholesterol content of Spam is 70 milligrams (23% DV). A serving also contains 57% of the recommended daily intake of sodium (1369 milligrams). Spam provides the following vitamins and minerals (% DV): 1% vitamin C, 1% calcium, 5% iron, 3% magnesium, 9% potassium, 12% zinc, and 5% copper.
There are several different flavors of Spam products, including:
In addition to the variety of flavors, Spam is sold in tins smaller than the twelve-ounce standard size. Spam Singles are also available, which are single sandwich-sized slices of Spam Classic or Lite, sealed in retort pouches.
In the United States in the aftermath of World War II, a troupe of former servicewomen was assembled by Hormel Foods to promote Spam from coast to coast. The group was known as the Hormel Girls and associated the food with being patriotic. In 1948, two years after its formation, the troupe had grown to 60 women with 16 forming an orchestra. The show went on to become a radio program where the main selling point was Spam. The Hormel Girls were disbanded in 1953. Spam is still quite popular in the United States, but is sometimes associated with economic hardship because of its relatively low cost.
On average, each person on Guam consumes 16 tins of Spam each year and consumption is similar in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Hawaii, and Saipan, the CNMI's principal island. These areas have the only McDonald's restaurants that feature Spam on the menu. Spam was introduced into the aforementioned areas, in addition to other islands in the Pacific such as Okinawa and the Philippine Islands, during the U.S. military occupation after World War II. Since fresh meat was difficult to get to the soldiers on the front, World War II saw the largest use of Spam when it was served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Some soldiers referred to Spam as "ham that didn't pass its physical" and "meatloaf without basic training".) Soldiers commonly referred to Spam as "Special Army Meat" due to its introduction during the war. Surpluses of Spam from the soldiers' supplies made their way into native diets. Consequently, Spam is a unique part of the history and effects of U.S. influence in the Pacific.
The residents of the state of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the United States. Hawaiian Burger King restaurants began serving Spam in 2007 to compete with the local McDonald's chains. In Hawaii, Spam is so popular it is sometimes referred to as "The Hawaiian Steak". One popular Spam dish in Hawaii is Spam musubi, where cooked Spam is combined with rice and nori seaweed and classified as onigiri.
The perception of Spam in Hawaii is very different from that on the mainland. Despite the large number of mainlanders who consume Spam, and the various recipes that have been made from it, Spam, along with most canned food, is often stigmatized on the mainland as "poor people's food". In Hawaii, similar canned meat products such as Treet are considered cheaper versions of canned meat than Spam. This is a result of Spam having the initial market share and its name sounding more convincing to consumers.
In these locales, varieties of Spam unavailable in other markets are sold. These include Honey Spam, Spam with Bacon, and Hot and Spicy Spam.
Spam that is sold in North America, South America, and Australia is produced in Austin, Minnesota (also known as "Spam Town USA") and in Fremont, Nebraska. Austin, Minnesota has a restaurant with a menu devoted exclusively to Spam, called "Johnny's SPAMarama Menu".
In 1963, Spam was introduced to various private and public schools in South Florida as cheap food and even for art sculptures. Due to the success of the introduction, Hormel Foods also introduced school "color-themed" spam. The first being a blue and green variety which is still traditionally used in some private schools of South Florida.
In the United Kingdom, Spam is often sliced, battered and deep-fried into Spam fritters. It was common in the 1940s, during World War II, as a consequence of rationing and the Lend-Lease Act, when Hormel began to increase production for British and Russian markets.
After World War II, Newforge Foods, part of the Fitch Lovell group, was awarded the licence to produce the product in the UK (doing so at its Gateacre factory, Liverpool), where it stayed until production switched to the Danish Crown Group (owners of the Tulip Food Company) in 1998, forcing the closure of the Liverpool factory and the loss of 140 jobs. By the early 1970s the name Spam was often misused to describe any tinned meat product containing pork, such as pork luncheon meat.
The image of Spam as a low cost meat product gave rise to the Scottish colloquial term "Spam valley" to describe certain affluent housing areas where residents appear to be wealthy but in reality may be living at poverty levels.
Spam was featured in a 1970 Monty Python sketch called "Spam", set in a cafe which only served dishes containing spam, and whose menu ran to such items as "spam, sausage, spam, spam, bacon, spam, tomato and spam". In the 1990s, this led to the adoption of the term "email spam" to refer to unwanted electronic junk mail whose quantity can overwhelm genuine messages.
In China, Spam is an increasingly popular food item, and often used in sandwiches. Hormel has had a joint-venture in Shanghai for 16 years which has been highly successful in promoting Spam. In 2005, its Chinese division was one of the most profitable parts of the company. This development is due, in part, to the increasing per capita income in Shanghai, coupled with the expansion of their food diet toward more meat.
In Hong Kong, Spam is commonly served with instant noodles and fried eggs, and is a popular item in cha chaan teng. Spam is less popular than Ma Ling Meats, its main competitor in the Hong Kong processed meat market, although recent controversies surrounding high salt content in Ma Ling products may allow Spam to gain market share.
In the Philippines, Spam may be eaten with fried rice and eggs or as a sandwich with pandesal. It is often eaten for breakfast. During the rescue efforts after Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009, Hormel Foods donated over 30,000 pounds of Spam to the Philippine National Red Cross.
In South Korea, Spam (Hangul: 스팸; RR: seupaem) is popular in households as an accompaniment to rice. A local television advertisement claims that it is the tastiest when consumed with white rice and gim (laver seaweed used for some types of handrolls). Spam products currently being sold in Korea are made with more high-quality ingredients than other countries as the Korean manufacturer took advantage of the name which gained its popularity during and after Korean War as a smuggled or leaked ration and improved it over time as the country became richer. Because of this, Spam in Korea tastes different from the ones sold in other countries, and is a relatively expensive product compared to its competitors in Korea. Spam is also an original ingredient in budae jjigae ("army base stew"), a spicy stew with different types of preserved meat.
Spam and similar meat preserves can be bought in gift sets that may contain nothing but the meat preserve or include other products such as food oil or tuna. When invited to another person's home, guests may present their hosts with such a set, or with other food gifts such as fresh fruit, beverages or tteok.
The surfeit of Spam in both North and South Korea during the Korean War led to the establishment of the Spam kimbap (rice and vegetable filled seaweed roll). Because of a scarcity of fish and other traditional kimbap products such as kimchi or fermented cabbage, Spam was added to a rice roll with kimchi and cucumber and wrapped in seaweed. Spam was also used by US soldiers in Korea as a means of trading for items, services or information around their bases. Spam is also remarkably popular to a majority of the population, and outranks Coca-Cola and KFC in status as a foodstuff. Today, South Korea produces and consumes more Spam than any other country except the United States.
In Israel, a kosher variant of Spam, known as Loof (Hebrew: לוף, distortion of meatloaf), was produced by Richard Levi, and mostly used as part of field rations by the Israel Defense Forces. A Glatt kosher version was also produced. It was phased out of field rations during the early 2000s and was finally removed from rations when production ceased in 2009.
Spam is celebrated in Austin, Minnesota, home to the Spam Museum. The museum tells the history of the Hormel company, the origin of Spam, and its place in world culture. Austin is also the location of final judging in the national Spam recipe competition. Competing recipes are collected from winning submissions at the top 40 state fairs in the nation.
Hawaii holds an annual Spam Jam in Waikiki during the last week of April. The small town of Shady Cove, Oregon is home to the annual Spam Parade and Festival, with the city allocating US$1,500 for it.
Spamarama was a yearly festival held around April Fool's Day in Austin, Texas. The theme of Spamarama was gentle parody of Spam, rather than straightforward celebration: the event at the heart of the festival was a Spam cook-off that originated as a challenge to produce the most appetizing recipe for the meat. The festival included light sporting activities and musical acts, in addition to the cook-off.
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