The original plan was to taste-test Spam and various Spam “luncheon meat” knockoffs. Didn’t happen, couldn’t do it. Even I have my limits (really!). I’m not excited to eat any Spam, much less sample a bunch of secondary brands. But a bunch of secondary brands exist, and I’m about to marvel at them, even if I don’t taste them.
First, a bit of context. Spam can mean many things these days, but here we are talking about the food, or “food” — canned precooked meat product, if you prefer. I used to think of Spam as a WWII cheap-GI-food product, and I guess it was, but it was invented pre-war in 1937 and really popularized afterward, especially in the South Pacific during U.S. occupation of various far-flung lands and islands. More at the useful Wikipedia entry for Spam, which in this case I think is probably reliable enough.
Spam tastes okay, I guess, if you like that kind of thing, and it should: a 3.5 ounce serving contains nearly half of the average human’s daily allotment of saturated fat, and nearly two-thirds of sodium. The pasty-meat-byproduct texture is what stops me in my tracks, and also the aspic in which it is packed — reminds me of that time in 6th grade playing D&D when we were attacked by a gelatinous cube. Also I have to force myself not to think of the provenance of the various ingredients, especially the (allegedly) chopped pork shoulder meat. But if the aspic is thoroughly wiped away and a slice of Spam is pan-fried, with a nice crisp crust forming on the outside, then maybe I could be convinced to eat it. Or maybe if someone competent made me some musubi. Especially if they flew me to Hawaii first. I will consume Spam in exchange for a Hawaii trip! Everybody has to draw a line in the sand sometime, and my Spam line is drawn in the hot white sands of the Hawaiian Islands.
Anyway, it continues to be popular, particularly in Asia, and a bunch of knockoffs are available, mostly choosing to call the product “luncheon meat” instead of “spiced ham” — you can still have your luncheon meat for breakfast or dinner, if you want. Thanks to H Mart, many knockoffs are available right here in Wheaton, plus multiple flavors of actual Spam: Oven Roasted Turkey, Real Hormel Bacon, Black Pepper, Lite, 25% Less Sodium…so many choices of Spam. Who knew?
But if one wanted to branch out, one could also try the generic luncheon meat offerings from such charming brands as Ligo, Fortune, Celebrity, Roxy, or Oriental Mascot. H Mart carries them all — seeing all the brands together on the shelf is what sparked this post. I am having trouble understanding how the demand for off-brand canned precooked meat product could be so high that all these brands exist together. It is possible these same cans have been sitting on the H Mart shelf for years, unpurchased, but I doubt it. I think someone is buying them, and possibly eating them too. What else could you do with Spam? Could you build a house out of it? It may have good insulating properties, and probably a longer shelf life than vinyl siding. I’m just speculating here.
For more on Spam, here is a recent post from Serious Eats. And here is an older “post”…