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SPAM makes a comeback


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I remember eating this as a little girl. It appears that Americans are stocking up on it because it's affordable...it's one of those foods when times are good that people like to make fun of, yet when times get rough, it's one of the first foods they stock up on.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/business/15spam.html

 

Spam Turns Serious and Hormel Turns Out More

By ANDREW MARTIN

AUSTIN, Minn. — The economy is in tatters and, for millions of people, the future is uncertain. But for some employees at the Hormel Foods Corporation plant here, times have never been better. They are working at a furious pace and piling up all the overtime they want.

 

The workers make Spam, perhaps the emblematic hard-times food in the American pantry.

 

Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce.

 

In a factory that abuts Interstate 90, two shifts of workers have been making Spam seven days a week since July, and they have been told that the relentless work schedule will continue indefinitely.

 

Spam, a gelatinous 12-ounce rectangle of spiced ham and pork, may be among the world’s most maligned foods, dismissed as inedible by food elites and skewered by comedians who have offered smart-alecky theories on its name (one G-rated example: Something Posing As Meat).

 

But these days, consumers are rediscovering relatively cheap foods, Spam among them. A 12-ounce can of Spam, marketed as “Crazy Tasty,” costs about $2.40. “People are realizing it’s not that bad a product,” said Dan Johnson, 55, who operates a 70-foot-high Spam oven.

 

Hormel declined to cooperate with this article, but several of its workers were interviewed here recently with the help of their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 9. Slumped in chairs at the union hall after making 149,950 cans of Spam on the day shift, several workers said they been through boom times before — but nothing like this.

 

Spam “seems to do well when hard times hit,” said Dan Bartel, business agent for the union local. “We’ll probably see Spam lines instead of soup lines.”

 

Even as consumers are cutting back on all sorts of goods, Spam is among a select group of thrifty grocery items that are selling steadily.

 

Pancake mixes and instant potatoes are booming. So are vitamins, fruit and vegetable preservatives and beer, according to data from October compiled by Information Resources, a market research firm.

 

“We’ve seen a double-digit increase in the sale of rice and beans,” said Teena Massingill, spokeswoman for the Safeway grocery chain, in an e-mail message. “They’re real belly fillers.”

 

Kraft Foods said recently that some of its value-oriented products like macaroni and cheese, Jell-O and Kool-Aid were experiencing robust growth. And sales are still growing, if not booming, for Velveeta, a Kraft product that bears the same passing resemblance to cheese as Spam bears to ham.

 

Spam holds a special place in America’s culinary history, both as a source of humor and of cheap protein during hard times.

 

Invented during the Great Depression by Jay Hormel, the son of the company’s founder, Spam is a combination of ham, pork, sugar, salt, water, potato starch and a “hint” of sodium nitrate “to help Spam keep its gorgeous pink color,” according to Hormel’s Web site for the product.

 

Because it is vacuum-sealed in a can and does not require refrigeration, Spam can last for years. Hormel says “it’s like meat with a pause button.”

 

During World War II, Spam became a staple for Allied troops overseas. They introduced it to local residents, and it remains popular in many parts of the world where the troops were stationed.

 

Spam developed a camp following in the 1970s, mainly because of Monty Python, the English comedy troupe. In a 1970 skit, a couple tried to order breakfast at a cafe featuring Spam in nearly every entree, like “Spam, Eggs, Sausage and Spam.” The diners were eventually drowned out by a group of Vikings singing, “Spam, lovely Spam, wonderful Spam.”

 

(Familiar with the skit, Internet pioneers labeled junk e-mail “spam” because it overwhelmed other dialogue, according to one theory.)

 

Here in Austin, local officials have tried to capitalize on Spam’s kitschy cultural status, even if a decidedly unpleasant odor hangs over the town (a slaughterhouse next to the Hormel plant butchers 19,000 hogs a day). Austin advertises itself as “Spamtown,” and it boasts 13 restaurants with Spam on the menu.

 

Jerry’s Other Place sells a Spamburger for $6.29. Johnny’s “Spamarama” menu includes eggs Benedict with Spam for $7.35. At Steve’s Pizza, a medium Spam and pineapple pizza costs $11.58.

 

“There are all kinds of people who have an emotional connection to Spam,” said Gil Gutknecht Jr., the former Minnesota congressman, who was in the gift shop at the Spam Museum buying a Spam tie, sweatshirt and earrings. Mr. Gutknecht recalled that he once served as a judge in a Spam recipe contest.

 

“The best thing was Spam brownies,” he said, with more or less a straight face.

 

No independent data provider compiles sales figures that include all the outlets where Spam is sold, including foreign stores, so it is not clear exactly how much sales are up. Hormel’s chief executive, Jeffrey M. Ettinger, said in September that they were growing by double digits.

 

The company would not discuss more recent sales of the product or permit a tour of the Spam factory, citing rules that Hormel said prevented it from speaking ahead of a forthcoming earnings report.

 

However, Hormel executives appear to be banking on the theory that Spam fits nicely into recession budgets. Workers on the Spam line in Austin — more than 40 of them work two shifts —see no signs that their work schedule will let up.

 

“We are scheduled to work every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Darwin Sellers, 56, a Spam “formulator” who adds salt, sugar and nitrates to batches of Spam. “Mr. Ettinger is negotiating with the man upstairs to get us to work eight days a week.”

 

Mr. Sellers said he had not seen much of his family in recent months, but the grueling schedule had been good for his checkbook. He bought a new television and planned to replace a 20-year-old refrigerator.

 

Unlike his colleagues though, he has no plans to stock up on Spam. “It’s not something I’ve ever developed a taste for,” he said.

 

A rising segment of the public, it seems, does have a taste for Spam, which is available in several varieties, including Spam Low Sodium, Spam with Cheese and Spam Hot & Spicy.

 

James Bate, a 48-year-old sausage maker, was buying it at Wal-Mart in Cleveland recently. Not only was it cheap, but he said it brought back fond memories of his grandfather’s making him Spam sandwiches.

 

“You can mix it with tomatoes and onions and make a good meal out of it,” he said. “A little bit of this stuff goes a long way.”

 

Christopher Maag contributed reporting from Cleveland.

 

 

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My kids love this stuff! And I'd eat it myself in a pinch. I have to admit though, I've been buying off brand which is soooo much cheaper. I guess what is worse than SPAM...off brand spam! grin

 

But, seriously, it is a shelf stable food and an alternative to the gazillions of cans of tuna that I buy.

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Same here. I love the stuff. Imagine my delight when my inlaws took us to Hawaii and I discovered that McDonald's breakfasts there include spam and pineapple! Yum!

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I love it, the kids love it, but my wife doesn't. So, we rarely eat it. But we do have some stocked up. The kids and I have it when she's out of town.

 

I like it best fried, but my mother's SPAM and potatoes is fantastic, basically potatoes, SPAM, condensed milk and some others. Baked for a while. Since we don't eat it much, I don't have this recipe. I'll have to get my mother to send it to me.

 

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We always have Spam in the pantry, and use it, too.

 

I have found that the local store-brand Spam is good.

 

We do NOT like Treet, at all. Not worth the price difference. Bleah!

 

I have some cookbooks from the 50's and before that have lots of recipes calling for "canned luncheon meat". For you younger ladies, that's code for SPAM! grin

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when it's my turn to cook at the camp about once a yr, I always dice up 2 cans of spam(about 3/8 X 3/8 pieces and shake around in a 3/4 cup of hot butter in a skillet. don't let the butter burn or turn brown, just let it get the pork flavor from the spam.

them cook 3 boxes of Kraft Mac and cheese.

in another dish put 1 and 1/4 cup of milk and a slab of valveeta cheeze, heat til the valveeta melts and is hot.

the mac should be done, add the meat,hot butter and all, add the cheeze and milk and stir together. put in a table spoon of parsley and serve.

baking powder bisciuts go with it and some apple sauce, cheapest meal there is to feed six grown ups and some actually think it was work.

 

if you really want it to look good, put it in glass baking dishes and stick it under a broiler til it gets a brown cover on it.

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How about some "Spam Dip". A friend gave this recipe to me and swears it's good. I haven't tried it yet.

 

1 - 12oz. Spam

1 C. mayo

1/4 chili sauce

3 TBSP. vinegar

2 TBSP. chopped onion

2 tsp. sugar or Splenda

 

Combine all ingredients in blender. Serve with crackers.

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Originally Posted By: Stephanie
Uhoh! I better stop buying the Treet! I had gotten a few of those in the pantry, maybe half a dozen. I'll try the kids on it this weekend and see if they'll eat it. confused

Has anyone tried the WalMart Great Value brand?


I think the first ingredient in Treet is mechanically seperated chicken just those words turn me off. like how many feet slipped be and got ground up, although some people eat chicken feet, but i'll pass for now.
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Treet is bad, Spam is good. I remember my mother fixing it by cutting it in half and spreading yellow mustard on it, heating in the over til hot and a little brown. We still eat it this way a few times a year. I do it fried for sandwiches. Straight out of the can is not too good IMO.

 

 

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Originally Posted By: still survieving
Originally Posted By: Stephanie
Uhoh! I better stop buying the Treet! I had gotten a few of those in the pantry, maybe half a dozen. I'll try the kids on it this weekend and see if they'll eat it. confused

Has anyone tried the WalMart Great Value brand?


I think the first ingredient in Treet is mechanically seperated chicken just those words turn me off. like how many feet slipped be and got ground up, although some people eat chicken feet, but i'll pass for now.


ewww
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Hmmm. Tim's been looking around for a safe place for him to be employed while things are rough. (He works for a company that makes big boy toys.)

 

Maybe he should contact the Spam company and see if they need any engineers in their manufacturing plants.

 

"So, what do you do for a living?"

 

"I help make Spam."

 

He loves Spam. Should make the move an easy one. rofl

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Fried Spam, tomato, and lettuce sandwiches

 

Chopped Spam, onions, potatoes, and pepper, fried.

 

Spam and pea salad (frozen peas thawed, cubed Spam, cubed white and/or yellow cheese, diced onions or green onions, Ranch or other creamy dressing)

 

Fried eggs with fried Spam and toast

 

Spam in beans, cubed, to add flavor and texture

 

 

 

 

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Ummm. I do remember eating SPAM as a kid, my dad loved it but once I developed allergies to nitrates, nothing made me sick for DAYS, faster than pork. Still is a stomach-turner like nothing else. sick

 

As a wedding joke for some dear friends whose anniversary is the same as my birthday, I got a SPAM 3-pack and said, "Bad things come in three's, let's get it over with now!" It was the joke of the party but the SPAM did get eaten by my friend's husband when she was gone. eekwhistling

 

My grandma swears by it and those little canned corned beef tins and canned DAK hams.

 

Now, I will admit this to ONLY you on this forum - I do have SPAM in my house, but am stocking it as barter items for when SHTF. It is in the basement, in a tote, waaaay back in the corner. Really.

 

DarleneSwoon

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Hello. My name is TractorDiva and I like Spam. LOL!

 

I have fond memories of after my mother passed away, my dad would give the housekeeper a weekend off and he'd be in charge of 3 kids under 8 (7,6 and 2). One meal was always the Spam-mich. Or fried in eggs, or a rare treat, as a burger on a real bun with lettuce. My dad did so much for us kids during those years, and Spam just worked.

 

Now as an adult, I was introduced to a Spam grinder, and it quickly evolved into Spam pizza (don't ask, it just did...) It is a special treat that we share when the man-cub is off at a friend's house for the weekend. Spam pizza, a good movie, cuddle on the couch...

 

Now for those chicken feet...they make a phenomenal chicken stock. Easy, rich, luxurious mouth feel. And in our world, when we process our our meat birds we use everything except the feathers and the beak (which are put through my compost pile)...

 

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SPAM - Stuff Posing As Meat

 

Gotta love it. It packs well in pack baskets for backwoods trips. Great late night snack right out of the can. SPAM sandwiches, Spam and eggs. Lasts forever in the cans and I don't care what's in it as long as it tastes good. Gets you through the hard times, feed the hungry in wartime and always has a place in my pantry.

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