I’ve always enjoyed Spam® lunch meat, but what spurred this article was a recent purchase. Spam® generally costs about $2.50 per can. We found some overstock, with a good use-by date, for 50 cents a can. The store wanted to move it, and we got it. We’ll be enjoying Classic Spam® for a good long time.
Spam®, an often-maligned canned meat product that is the brunt of many jokes and called many uncomplimentary names, is really getting a bad rap. Many who malign this product have never actually eaten any. They believe the slander put forth by others, and fall in line, badmouthing something they have never tried.
Spam® is a canned meat product, made by Hormel Foods, out of Austin, Minnesota. It is a combination of pork, ham, salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrate. Oops, isn’t sodium nitrate supposed to kill you? Well a lot of things with chemical names are supposed to be bad, but they are in almost any processed food you pick up at your local grocery store. The key is moderation. An exclusive diet of just about anything is not going to be good for you. Spam®, as part of a varied and balanced diet, is a good source of protein, just like most other meats.
Spam® was introduced in 1937. It was publicized and became a common household commodity. Spam® was shipped to Europe, to allied countries, before the United States entered the war. The Hormel Co. produced canned meats under government contracts for the military during the war, but not all of it was actual Spam®. These other canned meats may have tarnished the reputation of the genuine product amongst some of our GI’s.
Spam® is very popular, especially in Hawaii and Alaska. Due to lack of fresh meats in the early days of the states, Spam® was an instant hit. In northern Alaska, it’s a common survival food. Spam® lunch meat can be eaten without cooking, it doesn’t freeze hard enough to be uneatable, even at well below 0 degrees. It has the protein, fat, and sugar needed to energize a cold, tired body. It has a long shelf life, and it comes in a convenient package.
We don’t have any fabulous Spam® recipes. We just use it where we would use other meats. We use Spam® for sandwiches, fried or straight from the can, with lettuce, and a little mustard on our favorite bread. Fried Spam® on toast with mayo, tomato, and lettuce is as classic as a BLT. Grilled Spam® and cheese is one of my favorites.
Although it is commonly referred to as Spam® luncheon meat, Spam® isn’t just for lunch. It can be a breakfast meat, diced in scrambled eggs, or sliced thin and fried instead of bacon. The other evening, we had fried Spam®, baked sweet potatoes, steamed cabbage, and a salad. We’ve had Spam® with au gratin potatoes, in place of the usual ham in them. I like Spam® with fried potatoes with onions, and creamed corn.
I remember a particularly good one pan meal. I started by frying Spam® in a large pan. I added a can of baked beans to one side. Then, I poured a mostly drained can of mandarin oranges over the Spam®. The oranges slightly browned from the fried Spam® and all the juices mingled together. I served this with buttered pumpernickel bread.
We’ve enjoyed Spam® lunch meat all our lives and all over the country. We’ve had battered and deep-fried coconut Spam® at an exclusive dinner show in Alaska. When in Hawaii, we ate Spam® at several restaurants. We’ve had Spam® in Polynesian restaurants. As RVers, Spam® is a staple we keep in our motorhome, whether in Texas or Tennessee, Maryland or Minnesota.
Besides Classic Spam®, there are several other varieties. The Teriyaki Spam® is great in fried rice! There are even Spam® lunch meat varieties made with chicken and turkey now. We’ve liked all the varieties we’ve tried.
Spam® lunch meat is a staple in our lives. It’s a versatile meat. We use it in place of cold cuts, such as bologna. Cut into thick slabs and grilled, it replaces ground beef to make Spam® burgers. Spam® often substitutes for ham in our home, partly because of price, but mostly because of convenience.