As of 2003, Spam is sold in 41 countries worldwide, sold on six continents and trademarked in over 100 different countries.
In the United States in the aftermath of World War II, a troupe of ex-G.I. women was created 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 the group's conception, 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.
The residents of the state of Hawaii and the territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) consume the most Spam per capita in the United States. On average, each person on Guam consumes 16 tins of Spam each year and the numbers at least equal this in the CNMI. Guam, Hawaii, and Saipan, the CNMI's principal island, have the only McDonald's restaurants that feature Spam on the menu. In Hawaii, Burger King began serving Spam in 2007 on its menu 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.
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 in 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. GIs started eating Spam for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Some soldiers referred to Spam as "ham that didn't pass its physical" and "meatloaf without basic training".) Army soldiers commonly refer 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 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 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 Potato Salad
Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.
1 (12 oz) can spam, cut into strips
2 green onions, chopped
2 large potatoes, scrub and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Using a fork prick each potato, cook 8 minutes on high in the microwave. In skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add spam and sprinkle with pepper, saute spam until lightly brown. Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Add chopped potatoes, green onions and cheese. Toss. Enjoy!
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