Locals in Hawaii use SPAM’s slightly spiced, salty flavor in everything from breakfast scrambles with eggs to a sushi-like concoction made with rice and a seaweed wrap known as a musubi (moosue-bee).
Born and raised in Laie, Zynfia Colburn, a graphic design major at BYU–Hawaii, said she grew up eating SPAM as a child, but her family doesn’t eat as much of it anymore. Colburn said they are trying to eat healthy but still consider musubi to be the ultimate beach snack because the kids love it, and it’s easy to pack.
According to the SPAM website, people in Hawaii consume more SPAM than any state at seven million cans a year. The SPAM website explains Hawaii’s love affair with SPAM began in World War II when soldiers were served the salty lunch meat because it didn't require refrigeration and had a long shelf life.
SPAM is the most requested item at Hawaii’s food banks, according to nationalgeographic.com. Additionally, Waikiki hosts the annual Waikiki SPAM JAM. The event attracts thousands of SPAM enthusiasts, all wanting to sample hundreds of unique SPAM creations prepared by various restaurants around town. This year’s Waikiki SPAM JAM will be on Saturday, April 27 from 4-10 p.m.
Love it or hate it, SPAM is a cultural icon and is recognized all over the world for saltiness, and its ability to withstand all manner of emergencies. This is up to and including thermonuclear war and zombie apocalypse, according to seriousseats.com.
Stuart Wolthuis, associate professor of computer and information systems at BYUH, said he loves to eat it fried and cooked in a pan over an open fire at Scout Camp.
Rhea Wilcox, a BYUH alumna from Las Vegas, said she likes to cube SPAM, dump brown sugar on it, cook it until it’s glazed and then serve it over rice. She also said she grew up eating it, and SPAM is a family favorite because it’s delicious.
Vernon Slack, who lives in Alpine, Utah, said, “Growing up in Laie, my mother would make deviled SPAM where she would grind up the SPAM and sweet pickles and mix in Miracle Whip. That was spread on bread for our lunches at school. For dinner, she would slice the SPAM and then bake it like meatloaf with ketchup or pineapple on top. She made saimin with slices of SPAM. Now I have SPAM musubi when I can find it.”
Casey Lythgoe, a BYUH alumnus from Roy, Utah, said his wife puts it in fried rice instead of ham. “Try it once. You will never go back.”
Kelli Radmall, a former BYUH student from Texas, exclaimed, “Cook the diced SPAM in a mixture of brown sugar and Shoyu, put on top of hot rice and top with over easy eggs and a drizzle of the Shoyu mixture. SPAM, rice, and eggs, baby!”
Writer: Patsy Brereton