Spam, Spam, Spam. I don’t like Spam! I mean, either you love it or… you hate it. I am firmly in the ‘hate it with an absolute passion’ camp. It’s the Marmite of the meat world, really. Honestly, give me the option of a Spam supper or a dog biting off my love spuds, I’d take the second option, I really would. I hate it so very, very much. Almost enough to make me go vegan, never mind vegetarian. Nobody really knows where the name ‘Spam’ comes from. Some think it stands for something. My favourites include, ‘Solidified and Processed Anti-Meat’ and ‘Semi-Pseudo Almost Meat.’ Of course, my absolute favourite is, ‘Steam-Pressed Ape Meat.’ Wouldn’t surprise me if it were, to be honest…
Spam is a disgusting precooked meat made by Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. There was an utterly exciting competition held to name the new ‘food.’ Ken Kaigneau won the $100 prize, suspicious because he was the brother of the executive of Hormel. Hmm. Much like with Coke’s special recipe, only a handful of people on Earth know what the Spam name means. Also, like with Coke, it’s made from parts of animals you’d rather not think about. Don’t tell Coke I said that. They might sue me. They have a habit of not being happy with people keeping it real, like I. Or people using outdated ‘90s slang. Ahem.
Popular beliefs are that the name ‘Spam’ is an abbreviation of ‘spiced ham,’ ‘spare meat’ or ‘shoulders of pork and ham.’ Some think it stands for, ‘Specially Processed American Meat’ or ‘Specially Processed Army Meat,’ but we know these last two aren’t true. I must stress, that last one is meat for an Army, not meat made from an Army. That would be horrifying, but it’s also a neat segue into the next bit of this post. I like it when a segue appears. A literary segue. Not one of those two wheeled things. I mean, they rarely ‘suddenly appear,’ but when they do, it’s never a good sign…
Food was in short supply during the Second World War. It was incredibly difficult to get food and other supplies to the front line, and so Spam stepped in to fill the need. Those poor soldiers. It’s all the US soldiers ate during the War, apparently. Breakfast, snacks, dinner and supper. Every day of the year. I can’t imagine that sort of torture. You’d think they would’ve grown to love Spam. Not… not so much, no. One soldier once said, “[Spam is] ham that didn’t pass its physical.” Another said, “[Spam is] meatloaf without basic training.” During the War, just over 150 million pounds of Spam was purchased by the American military. That’s weight, by the way. Not the British currency. I hope. Golly, I really hope so.
Because of rationing during the War, it gained popularity in Britain. Capital witch Margaret Thatcher referred to Spam as a British ‘wartime delicacy.’ Seriously. Hormel even increased Spam production as part of Allied aid to a beleaguered Soviet Union. Politician Nikita Khrushchev once said, “Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.” Countries all over the world left devastated by the War lived off Spam when there was nothing else. It became a working class hero. Spam! Of all things…
It became so popular during the War that Hormel even produced a company mascot named Slammin’ Spammy, an incredibly angry little pig. He was painted on the side of planes, plastered on posters all over America and printed onto T-shirts in the millions. Some have wondered why he was angrier about the War than all his little brothers and sisters being slaughtered to make Spam. Some would say it’s best not to think about it. Yeah.
Spam kept on giving to the war effort, too. It was not just used for food, but also as grease for guns and the cans were used for scrap metal. The European invasion fleet became known as the ‘Spam Fleet.’ But America didn’t escape the puns, either. It loved Spam so much it became known as ‘Uncle Spam.’ Wonderful.
Even when the War ended, the love of Spam continued. Former servicewomen were assembled by Hormel to promote Spam from coast to coast. The Hormel Girls troupe toured America and became a symbol of patriotism. By 1948, the troupe had 60 women in their ranks with 16 forming an orchestra. They even spawned a radio programme where all they did was talk about how ‘wonderful’ Spam is. It’s a shame they were disbanded in 1953. Some would say that modern day America could do with a Spam troupe. Tee, he, he…
Even today, Spam’s popularity knows no bounds. By 2003, it was being sold in 41 countries over six continents, trademarked in over 100 countries. The seven billionth can of Spam was sold in 2007. 44,000 cans are sold every hour, in 14 varieties, from ‘shit’ to ‘extremely shit.’ There’s even a Spam museum in Austin, Minnesota, where the headquarters of Hormel are located, charting the history of the Hormel company and Spam’s place in history. The museum is affectionately known by the locals as the ‘Guggenham,’ which I find, at a holder of a diploma in art and design, an absolute disgrace. Boo to those Minnesotans. Boo indeed.
And it’s not even that good for you. It’s full of salt and water. Large consumption of Spam has been proven to increase the risk of developing cancer and heart disease. It can also inhibit oxygen transportation, promote Type 1 diabetes in children and can even damage blood vessels. It’s also laden with cholesterol, increasing our blood pressure and causing weight gain. One serving of Spam contains 12 grains of sodium, giving us short-term side effects including stomach cramps, oedema, swelling and dizziness. Plus, it tastes absolutely awful. I’d rather eat a tree.
A Monty Python sketch portraying Spam as horrible, ubiquitous and inescapable led to modern day unwanted emails being dubbed ‘spam mail.’ ‘Unwanted’ unless you’re after a larger penis. Yet love of Spam is undeniable. There’s even a Church of Spam. They say, ‘Since the beginning of time, none is wasted, therefore Spam is the light, the power and the way. Come eat the fruit of time and partake in your heritage.’ Fucking lunatics…
Look, I know Spam is well loved, but you can’t deny that it tastes like cardboard, that it looks awful, that it’s very bad for you and Spam, in the words of Khrushchev, helped the Soviet Army. Is it a stretch to say that the Soviet Union would’ve collapsed a damn sight sooner if Spam hadn’t been invented? I don’t think so. And is it, therefore, much of a stretch to say that the makers of Spam are communist sympathisers? Yes. But I’ve already slagged off Coke and Spam so much today, that adding things to their lists of reasons they want to sue me can’t do any more damage than I’ve already done.
I know it helped the war effort and for that, I am eternally grateful. I wouldn’t wish Spam to be erased from history. We may have lost without it. But hasn’t its time come to an end? Isn’t it time we all say goodbye to this most wretched and foul of foods? It’s served its purpose, and so surely the time has come to say goodbye. For what is food, when it is just sitting there, all mouldy and irrelevant? I think the answer is obvious. Probably.
Why should Spam go to hell? Because it deserves it, that’s why…
Image (Click on It to Enlarge)
1) Slammin’ Spammy
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