Kirsty Presents: Spamalicious

I have long been fascinated with the sponsored links in the spam folder of my gmail account. I wonder about the day that the online equivalent of junk mail was christened spam.  What was Hormel Foods’ reaction?  After all, the irritation caused by an avalanche of unsolicited email offering snake oil remedies for s*xual satisfaction and instant riches is hardly a response any profit-minded company would want associated with their product.  Surely?

The nomination must, however, have been a double-edged sword, especially with the introduction of spam filters and folders which opened the way for a dedicated advertising opportunity via email accounts, many of whose owners might visit them several times in one day. Every now and again, I check the spam folder of my gmail account, just to assure myself that no genuine emails have been caught by its filter, and not once have I seen any product other than SPAM® recipes advertised above the list of unread messages.


I remember eating SPAM® as a child.  It was something to be taken on camping trips or to have on those occasions when the budget didn’t stretch to freshly sliced meat from the deli. But I don’t think I’ve eaten it for at least 20 years.  Perhaps this is the source of my fascination with the SPAM® recipes; I genuinely didn’t think anyone ate it anymore.  Even while I was aware that SPAM® was still on the shelves in all its varieties at my local supermarket, in a society of plenty, I considered it to be a last resort, a half-step up from tinned meat products for animals.

The recipes linked to in the gmail folder don’t necessarily change my view on this.  Here’s a brief sample: Savoury Spam Crescents, Spam Imperial Tortilla Sandwiches, Spam Swiss Pie, and Vineyard Spam Salad.  The ingredients in all of these recipes put me in mind of an odd combination of those recipe books for cosmopolitan housewives of the sixties and seventies and those so-called salads made from jello and marshmallow that were discussed in the comments somewhere else on this blog (I can’t find where right now).  My impression is something to do with the world tour and reinvention of various nationally ascribed cuisines and the use of packaged pastry and, of course, tinned meat.  For me, SPAM® is from another era or, perhaps, dimension, where fresh food was or is not readily available.

In the process of finding an image to accompany this post, I soon learned that my perception of SPAM® was not as widespread as I had assumed. No, indeedy. I found the image of the SPAM® Musubi via an article in Flak Magazine, ‘Hawaii: The Spam Archipelago‘.  Here my prejudices were confronted:  I am one of those  who ‘scoff at the possibilities of the pink meat’.

I’m not sure that having read the article I am scoffing any less, rather I am fascinated by the pervasiveness of SPAM® in the cuisine of the Pacific Rim. It seems that SPAM® is as contemporary an ingredient as any fresh oyster and like the oyster is often celebrated through a dedicated festival, known as the SPAM JAM®.  More than the humble oyster, however, SPAM® has its very own museum. And just in case you hoped thought the SPAM® stopped there, it seems there is also an entity known as the SPAMMOBILETM that travels from town to town.

In the face of all this SPAM® I can only conclude that rather than being upset by the advent of email spam, and so the possible dilution of their registered brand name, Hormel Foods followed a course of action taken by many an underdog:  ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’.  It is to this end that both spam and SPAM® will continue popping up:  relentless and tasteless (or at least a bit too salty).

13 comments ↓

#1 Zoe on 13.09.08 at 4:45 pm

The salady goodness is in the comments of your chopping board thread, Kirsty.

I’d always thought of Spam as mission food. Maybe I should be more careful – “the truth is, there are SPAM JAM® Festivals going on around us all the time.

#2 Anthony on 14.09.08 at 1:22 pm

I notice the Hormel website says that Kruschev credited SPAM for the Allied victory in World War II.

In Khrushchev Remembers, Khrushchev credited SPAM for keeping the Soviet Army alive during the War.

“We had lost our most fertile, food-bearing lands, the Ukraine and the Northern Caucasians. Without SPAM, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.”

SPAM: World Socialism Salutes You!

#3 Kirsty on 14.09.08 at 1:43 pm

Thanks Zoe, I didn’t even think to check my own posts.

Anthony, I think the website they’ve put together is pretty impressive. I like the whole tongue-in-cheek retro tone to it. And I’m pretty sure if I was ever in Austin, Texas I would go to the museum and probably even stop in the cafe. It would be a bit like the time I went to a Robbie Burns’ Supper and ate Haggis.

#4 Zoe on 14.09.08 at 7:42 pm

Reds under the bread, Anthony!

#5 FDB on 15.09.08 at 9:59 am

Don’t be knockin’ my spam.

Sometimes (say, when you’ve just done a 4-hour bushwalk in the rain and come back to your tent and just manage to light a fire) a seared tuns steak with rocket and pear salad just ain’t gonna cut it. I am firmly of the opinion that in such a case a can of spam and one of baked beans is the only solution.

#6 FDB on 15.09.08 at 10:00 am

tuna, obvs

#7 harry on 15.09.08 at 10:06 am

“In Khrushchev Remembers, Khrushchev credited SPAM for keeping the Soviet Army alive during the War.”

# In Soviet Russia, Red Army feeds Spam!

#8 Megxx on 15.09.08 at 12:23 pm

Yes, I think that’s the point. It’s a tin/ration/extreme circumstances kinda thing. If you’ve ever tried any army rations you’re not seriously likely to recommend them as a regular-civilian-edible alternative. But having said that, I must confess that my husband (a Sicilian who oughta know better) used to love Spam (and possibly still sneaks it when I’m not around…)

#9 Megxx on 15.09.08 at 12:33 pm

Calling him by the old-school ‘h’ word probably gives you a clue – he probably got a taste for it during the American occupation post WW2…

#10 purple goddess on 15.09.08 at 3:10 pm

I confess, I’ve never knowingly eaten SPAM® … but given my mother’s penchant for cooking with weird and dodgy ingredients, I may have ingested it unknowingly. Possibly in combination with a tin of pulped pineapple and some dehydrated Suprise carrots and peas….

Should I try it as a dare?, to round out my culinary experiences?

In other news, I have given you an “I love your blog” award, over at AGITK. Check it out, darl.

#11 Kirsty on 15.09.08 at 4:56 pm

FDB, they do some pretty fancy tuna in cans these days.

Purple Goddess, I think you should try SPAM. Yes. In the interests of culinary roundness.

Speaking of military provisions, go and have a look at this to see just what quality fare the poor old troops are ingesting these days.

#12 Helen on 02.10.08 at 9:31 pm

Coming in pretty late there, but OMG Look

Jello and Opossum recipes as well

Via Don Arthur at Troppo.

#13 Kirsty on 03.10.08 at 9:26 am

Ugh. Although I have to laugh at ‘Another Spam Casserole’.

But look at all those Okra recipes! Mmmm, okra.

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