Spam has been the forever favorite mysterious meat of America. One city in particular, Austin, Minnesota, named a street, Spam Boulevard, and a restaurant named after the meat. Johnny’s Spamarama was the original home of the famous “Spam De’ Melt”, a most-loved grilled cheese sandwich with bacon, spam, and sour cream inside. In 1891, George A. Hormel started his own meatpacking facility and slaughterhouse, and Austin soon enough was known as “Spamtown, USA”.
When Jay Hormel took over the corporation, he focused on a way to make the meat industry produce something small and on-the-go. He had an idea to put it in a can, so it will be easy to grab and cook. For many years, Hormel and his team tried to can the pork in order for it to not be easily perishable. Eventually, they discovered a way to can the pork in a vacuum, that would enable the meat to last longer. George A. Hormel & Co. used pork shoulder, water, salt, sugar, and sodium nitrate as the ingredients of its product. Potato starch was added in the mix years later.
There are many variations of where spam got its beloved name. Hormel claimed he was the one who thought of it from two words, “spice” and “ham”, yet those are not ingredients in spam. Another coworker said it is an acronym for “Shoulder of Pork And Ham”. But the most convincing story when putting on a New Year’s Eve party, Hormel held a naming contest, and Kenneth Daigneau easily came up with the word “spam”. Just like that, Spam was the name that stuck.
During WWII, the company sent hundreds of millions of spam overseas to the soldiers. The meat did not have to be refrigerated, so it was able to last them a while. However, the soldiers got really tired of it quickly. They began to send hate mail about spam to Hormel. This displeased him greatly because he fought in WWI, and he never got to eat something as good as spam.
Spam made it all around the world. During WWII, it made its way to Great Britain and to the children’s lunch boxes. Since it could withstand the tropical heat, it became popular in Hawaii and the Asian Pacific, where it continues to be a favorite to this day. In Waikiki, Hawaii, there is even a spam-festival, Spam Jam. The people are crazy about spam, and they find crazy recipes to try for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert!