A Brief History (and Spirited Defense) of Spam

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spam Spam (freezelight/flickr)

Spam is the most processed of processed meats. Mention it and you're bound to get an intense reaction: from yelps of revulsion, to cries of genuine affection and yes, even ironic appreciation. Erin DeJesus, editor of Eater Portland and a news editor at Eater National broke down Spam's history, explained why it became popular in many Asian cultures and defended the canned meat from its many detractors. She asked "Why is there a foreignness or otherness to Spam? Why is it maybe less American, or more maligned than something like a hot dog?" 

Her article is called “A Brief History of Spam.”


Click listen above to hear a less than appetizing recipe for "Spam Upsidedown Pie" 


Erin DeJesus

Comments [7]

J.D. from Turlock, CA

Spam = Cham!

Jul. 22 2014 11:18 PM
DC from Brooklyn, NY

I love Spam more than bacon, nuff said.

Jul. 10 2014 06:06 PM

Navy Dad introduced me to Spam as a kid.
It was a rare treat, like a once a year TV dinner or Banquet boil-in-bags, for which we'd have to beg. Dad would fry it up as I scrambled the eggs and made rye toast with blue cheese.

I remember the first time I was allowed to use that strange key to unroll the thin metal lid....(now they're pop-tops).
I screwed up, slanting the key and derailing the lid's removal. Back then it was covered in gelatinous slime. My girlfriend refers to Spam as "canned people".

I am now an accomplished cook and Spam remains a secret, almost shameful pleasure (the salt! the fat! the wrongness of canned meat!). Tho eaten rarely -usually with my son who loves it too- today I had *just* finished frying up a slice, patting off the fat, squeezing on some lemon and wrapping it in a piece of seeded ride, when today's show was airing. Sweet!

Of course I closed the drapes before consuming.

Jul. 10 2014 03:10 PM
sclark from nj

I grew up eating Spam for lunches. I love it cooked crispy with dijon mustard on bread or chopped on top of my salad as my protein.
I had a great "sushi" with Spam on Hawaii. A local Samoan store near Chinaman's Hat offered a Spam, rice and seaweed sushi. Yum!

Jul. 10 2014 01:36 PM

My mother was of the 50's era and she swore by anything that came in a can. She equated cooking from scratch with being 'un modern'. At our home EVERYTHING came out of a can or from a box (from the cupboard or freezer). Spam was just fine by her - she would even eat it uncooked - slimy right out of the can!

She had 8 children and all of us learned to cook in self defense.

Jul. 10 2014 01:35 PM
Jim B

In The Happy Isles of Oceania, Paul Theroux posits that the popularity of Spam throughout Polynesia may owe something to it's supposed similarity in flavor to human flesh.

Jul. 10 2014 01:33 PM
randy from Brooklyn

not getting upset listening to this Leonard, i'm getting hungry! you're such a hater, but it's okay.

Jul. 10 2014 01:29 PM

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