Spam is pretty well known throughout the world and depending on whom you ask it can be something delightful or something pretty awful to eat. Some people really just love the taste of spam, other like using it as art medium, and others eat it because it’s downright cheap. On average, 3.8 cans are consumed every second in the United States. Regardless of who and why people eat spam, most people still aren’t exactly sure what’s in that can of spam, so here goes.
Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation. The labeled ingredients in the standard can of Spam are: chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. I am still not sure even the list of ingredients make it all that clear what it is or what it is, but it’s basically ground up pig shoulder meat with a bit of left over ham to give it some additional flavor. The meat is ground up and squished into a metal and shipped all over the world from grocery stores, army bases, third world countries and even hospitals. The meat itself takes on the shape of the container making it resemble nothing like actual meat, and its consistency is very soft.
It is an ideal source of protein for many people everywhere. The container is small enough to carry, It has a shelf life of approximately 3 years, and can be eaten hot or cold making it an ideal source of protein for those stranded or stuck or traveling in remote areas. You can also eat it without utensils being that it’s so soft.
There are a number of varieties of Spam and some vary by region which include Spam Classic, Spam Hot & Spicy, Spam Less Sodium, Spam Lite, Spam Oven Roasted Turkey, Hickory Smoked, and Spam Spread (a personal favorite of my aunt Gene), Spam with bacon, Spam with Cheese, Spam Mild, Spam Garlic, and now even spam hot dogs.
In a number of locations where Spam is actually made, it is also celebrated in local festivals. In Austin, Minnesota, where Hormel corporate headquarters are located there is an event known as Spam Jam which features parades and fireworks which often relate to the popular luncheon meat. Austin is also home to the Spam Museum. Each year there is a national recipe competition where submissions are accepted at the top forty state fairs in the nation using spam. One of last year’s winners created a winning Spam recipe making Baked Apples with SPAM Streusel.
Hawaii also holds their own version of Spam Jam in Waikiki during the last week of April and the small town of Shady Cove, Oregon is home to the annual Spam Parade and Festival.
Another Spam event held in Austin, Texas is the Spamarama; a yearly festival held around April Fool’s Day with a gentle parody of Spam, rather than straightforward celebration: the event at the heart of the festival is a Spam cook-off that originated as a challenge to produce an appetizing recipe for the meat. Spam sushi anyone?
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