On Spam

The New York Times gave a shout-out of sorts to Spam — the much-maligned meat product made by Austin-based Hormel Foods — along with several humorous, half-hearted attempts at endorsing the product as the great supper savior during tough times.

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.

“People are realizing it’s not that bad a product,” said Dan Johnson, 55, who operates a 70-foot-high Spam oven.

… and …

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.”

And in case you were wondering what former Minnesota congressmen do with their time, the Times ran into Gil Gutknecht in the Spam Museum’s gift shop, 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.

Perhaps the only positive economic indicator in the story is that the New York Times can still afford to dispatch a stringer to camp out in the canned goods aisle at Cleveland Wal-Mart for 63 words of Average Joe’s James’ analysis.

So, has the economic slowdown led you to start eating more ‘food’ that resembles other food? Feel free to share a favorite Spam recipe in the comments.

  • Joel


  • I’m hungry

    Sadly, I cannot lie – mac n’ cheese is currently back on the menu at my house. Maybe I’ll get some wieners and make a college hotdish. Ugh.

  • Kevin

    Back when I was in high school, Spam was merely a joke in a can. We all knew the spam song from Monty Python and we wore Spam t-shirts as a joke, but no one actually ever ate the stuff.

    Then, bereft of cash in grad school, I actually tried some… and tried some more… and grew to actually like it. When asked now, I actually do admit that I like Spam “un-ironically.”

    As an aside, is Spam really that much cheaper than other meats? I have always pegged Spam at about $3.25+ a pound, which is more than some frozen chicken or ground beef. Is it just that it’s so darn versatile that makes it appealing in tougher economic times?

  • Al

    They have a Spam recipe contest (and a Spam ‘Kid Chef of the Year’ competition) every year at the State Fair with judging on the afternoon of the first Friday of the fair. A couple of years back we were watching the results. They announced the winning recipe, to which my wife exclaimed “That sounds disgusting!” loud enough for a few people around us to hear. Then they announced the name of the winner, who happened to be the woman standing next to us. We slipped away before she returned with her prize.

  • Al

    Our family and friends had a little contest going to figure out what SPAM could be an acronym for. The winner was ‘Several People Are Missing’.

  • Alanna in MI

    I’ve eaten Spam my entire life. While I haven’t always loved it, I have always eaten it, haha. My parents would fry some up with eggs for Sunday breakfasts, which is my favorite way to eat it. I’ve never understood why people refuse to try it.

    And I think people buy it (thinking it’s cheaper) because it lasts so long. Chicken and beef get freezer burned, but Spam lasts for a very long time in a cupboard.

  • B2

    Gmail posts a new Spam recipe banner every day with your email. Haven’t tried any but did eat fried Spam and eggs as a child. My father liked it. My cheap foodlike substance: peanutbutter – the “old fashioned” no-sugar no-salt chunky kind.