9 Fast Facts You Didn’t Know About Spam

Getty Images

Spam, the meat, hasn’t gotten its fair shake as far as we’re concerned. Sure, the connection to junk mail hasn’t helped! But with a short ingredient list, lots of versatility and 15 different varieties out there, it’s time to take another look at the iconic canned ham with a history. We bet you didn’t know some of these nine fast facts about Spam!

1. It’s Made In Minnesota

Spam hails from the company Hormel, which is based in Austin, Minnesota — the land of a thousand lakes and millions of pigs used in Hormel’s products.

pigs photo
Getty Images | Scott Olson

2. It Was Invented During The Depression

Spam launched on July 5, 1937, which was during the Great Depression. The tinned product has thrived during hard economic times as shelf-stable, affordable meat, and its sales rose again during the most recent recession.

Spam photo
Flickr | JeepersMedia

3. The Origin of Its Name May Never Be Clear

We know that Ken Daigneau, brother of a Hormel vice president, won $100 in a contest to name the canned meat. But it’s never been entirely clear what the word “Spam” means, if anything.

Spam could be a portmanteau of “spiced ham,” but in the past, Hormel has said Spam stands for “shoulder of pork and ham.” Its website also jokes, “The real answer is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives. And probably Nostradamus.”

In other words: It’s a total mystery.

spam photo
Getty Images | David McNew

4. It Was A World War II Staple

It’s no big surprise that a compact, long-lasting form of meat was shipped and fed to military service members in World War II. It was also distributed in aid packages sent to Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

spam museum photo
Flickr | jjandames

5. It’s Super Popular In Hawaii

Spam may not get a ton of love on the U.S. mainland, but in Hawaii, the maligned meat is mega popular. (The author of this article is from Hawaii and can personally attest to its beloved status in her home state.)

You’ll find Spam served with eggs and rice for breakfast, all day as Spam musubi (basically Spam sushi) and in many, many other forms. There’s even a black market for Spam during tough times, according to this Washington Post report.

spam musubi photo
Flickr | bandita

6. It Has Just Six Ingredients

Spam is often derisively referred to as a “mystery meat.” However, there isn’t that much mystery if you read its ingredients list: pork, ham, water, salt, potato starch, sugar and sodium nitrite (a preservative).

spam photo
Flickr | JeepersMedia

7. It’s A Luxury Item In South Korea

South Koreans love Spam and have elevated it to a “luxury” level. It is a holiday gift item and eaten in a popular spicy soup called “military stew,” or budae jjigae.

spam korea photo
Flickr | milst1

8. It’s Cooked In Its Own Can

Spam’s ingredients are put into the can uncooked, vacuum-sealed and then sent along a conveyor belt to be cooked while in the can. While you could eat finished Spam straight out of the can, we think it tastes much better hot.

spam photo
Getty Images | Phil Mislinski

9. There’s A Spam Museum

Spam lovers have plenty of opportunities to celebrate their beloved meat product. There are Spam festivals, Spam recipe contests, and yes, even a free Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota. They even give out free sample bites, called Spamples!


What’s your favorite way to eat Spam?

Curiosity, Food
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About the Author
Anna Weaver
Anna Weaver is a writer and multimedia journalist from Hawaii. Her two young kids keep her on her toes and hooked on online shopping. Anna’s also a fan of movies, reading, photography, and sharing far too many IG stories about cute dogs and capybaras. Visit Scripps News to see more of Anna's work.

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