Spam is Back to Re-energize the Meeting Raffle
What a great way to welcome 2021! Thanks to detective work from CP Roger, we welcome the return of Spam as one of the meeting raffle prizes courtesy of Thailand's creaky answer to Amazon.com, Lazada. And this isn't ordinary Spam, no it's special Spam made in the good, ole USA for the South Korean market. While not mentioned in the Time magazine story below, South Korea is the biggest market for Spam outside the U.S. Roger found multiple sources for Spam on Lazada -- all originating from Korean food stores in Thailand.
We found the version offered in Korea to somehow taste fresher and be more appealing that what we remembered of the U.S. Spam. Maybe because the recipe changed in 2009 with the addition of a small amount of potato starch to mop up the gelatin layer that used to form on the top of the meat and greeted customers when they opened the can. Gee, has it been that long since Roger and I opened a can of Spam or have we been opening cans that were produced before 2009? While Spam hasn't been available in general grocery stores in Thailand for a couple years, maybe it hasn't been imported into those stores since before 2009.
In any event, the can of "Korean Spam" that was part of our holiday meals was indeed a treat. No worries. We have three more cans to donate to the CMIRC raffle. This quarter, raffle proceeds are supporting the meal program at Thomas House, a school in Thaton for children with special education needs. Rosie Massingham, project co-ordinator will present the program about Thomas House at the CMIRC meeting on January 5.
From TIME Magazine, July 5, 2017 by Oliva B Waxman:
BEFORE “spam” was a word that represented unwanted emails, it was a word that represented the successful repackaging of unwanted meats.
Spam — the square can of pork, salt, water, sugar, potato starch and sodium nitrite that first rolled off the assembly lines 80 years ago during the Great Depression — was invented “as a way to peddle the then-unprofitable pork shoulder,” according to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. It was the invention of Jay Hormel, son of George Hormel who founded the Hormel company, which pioneered canned pork products in Austin, Minn., in the late 1920s.
According to the company’s Spam Museum, Ken Digneau, the brother of a Hormel executive, came up with the name — a portmanteau word for “spiced ham” — in a naming contest and got $100 as a reward. The new product was introduced on July 5, 1937. Despite the plethora of early Spam ads aimed at housewives who wanted cheap, quick meals requiring almost no prep, some of the members of that target demographic were hesitant to eat meat that didn’t need to be refrigerated. But it didn’t take long for the U.S. military to find a use for the food innovation. Spam went global during World War II, when America shipped out over 100 million cans to the Pacific, where it made an inexpensive yet filling meal for U.S. troops. As TIME later noted, “Among fed-up fighting men from Attu to Anzio, Spam became one of the most celebrated four-letter words in World War II, gave birth to a flavorsome literature of tales, odes, jokes, limericks.” It remains popular in areas where soldiers were stationed, especially in Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. Spam also became part of aid packages to devastated Europe and Russia. As the former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev wrote in his memoir Khrushchev Remembers: “There were many jokes going around in the army, some of them off-color, about American Spam; it tasted good, nonetheless. Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army. We had lost our most fertile lands.”
To keep up Spam sales postwar, the company hired singers to tout the product, and even had a radio show Music With the Hormel Girls. Whatever the reason, it worked: Hormel produced its billionth can in 1959, amid rising sales. And yet the Spam-eating Vikings in the 1970s Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit is the pop culture Spam reference most people will remember.