Matt Ord here, I will presenting tomorrow on Spam Musubi:
As a kid it’s so important what your mom packed in your lunch when you went to school. I remember at school we would all open our lunches together comparing what each of our mothers had carefully packaged in our brown paper bags for lunch. To start, if you had a lunch pail you were already winning the food comparison between friends. I used to be so ashamed because my mother would always write, “Matty” on the front of my lunch bag which of course in grade school was death by embarrassment. After a while I was able to convince her that a Spiderman lunch pail was much needed and my lunch bag problems were solved. After we all opened our lunches we looked at what we got and oftentimes would exchange food items. Food was traded and bartered for amongst friends, for example a bag of grapes and a cheese stick could be trades for a small bag of Lay’s Potato Chips or one Oreo packet could buy you a whole sandwich and something else because the sweets always were one of the most sought after snacks. Although sweets were very popular, the number one thing everyone wanted to trade for was my mom’s Spam Musubi. Nothing hits your taste palate quite like the flavor of Spam Musubi, in my opinion its one of the best things in life. Perfectly cut Spam grilled until golden brown and slightly crunchy, with teriyaki sauce layered in between a ball of seasoned rice, all of which is wrapped in toasted seaweed, bringing together a medley of saltiness and sweetness. For as much Spam that I ate growing up, I’m surprised I still love it just as much as the first day I tried it. Now that i think of it, I’ve ate it for so long and so early in my life that it’s impossible to remember the first time that I tried Spam. I would eat scrambled eggs, Spam, Portuguese sausage and rice for breakfast, Spam and egg sandwiches or Spam Musubi for lunch, not all in one day but every other day. My Grandpa, a Hawaiian Filipino cook and jack of all trades, grew up on the Hawaiian Islands where Spam influenced his life and what he cooked greatly. He also fought in the Korean War, during that time the military fed the troops Spam because it was cheap, easily canned, and had a long shelf life.
The history of Spam is really interesting for how it gained popularity and how it came about. The article The History of Spam Musubi written by Vanessa Benoit, sums up Spam’s origin well, “The history of spam began with Hormel Foods, in 1937. But Jay Hormel, with plans to enhance and build on his father’s company, was not the only spam game in town. He introduced canned ham in 1926 and it was swiftly imitated. In the 30’s many companies were working on canning ham and pork products. But his competition allowed for pig ears, lips, and snouts in their meat. This gave Hormel an “in” or an advantage over what he could do better. He insisted in not using those parts and decided to instead use the shoulder meat of a pig, which was more time consuming. But now he also needed ways to make his product visibly distinct. He wanted to reduce the size of the can but kept running into an issue where the canned meat would release too much excess juice. He finally decided that the meat needed to be also mixed in a vacuum, to reduce leftover juices. No one really knows why the meat was called “spam”. Many speculate it was an amalgam of the words “spiced ham”, even though actual ham was not added to the concoction until later. Some people like to come up with comical acronyms such as “Spiced Processed Assorted Meat” or “Sciencey Pork and Meat”. The product did not take off by any means, not at first. But it was known for being economical. And in some cases, it was something housewives could throw together for an easy meal.” It started as an economic means of feeding your family, a cheap means of getting your protein, we all know how much meat can be.