Spam donated to Maui after wildfires

Originally published at: Spam donated to Maui after wildfires | Boing Boing


That summary of how Spam became popular among Pacific Islanders during WWII leaves out some pretty important context.

The unfortunate truth is that the US government, largely driven by racist paranoia, curtailed most offshore fishing in the islands they controlled because they were worried the islanders might be secretly delivering aid or information to the Japanese.

As a result, those island communities were no longer able to provide all their own food and the Hormel corporation happily pounced on the opportunity to find a new market for their product.


I think Rob was hinting at that, too. The Spam Legend is often posed as a feel-good piece of trivia with hints of mild colonialism (“Those simple islanders loved the canned meat product the Good American GIs ate!”) but hops over what it displaced. It’s not like Pacific Island natives didn’t have a robust dietary tradition pre-WWII.


I’m reminded of how adults of a certain age and background may have a taste for “government cheese” because it’s what we often were served with our school lunches… which I realized since was also because I went to school in Appalachia, as coal was dying out, taking the coal economy with it. We were exposed to it because it was cheap and available.

Saying “oh yeah, govt cheese was so good as a kid” kind of rose-colors away the reasons we had it: schools in rural areas serving a population with dwindling economic power.


From 2013:

Experimental Spam Flavors in Limited Maui Release : Maui Now.


TIL. Thank you!


A little factoid I only learned myself when I was teaching a class in package design. It’s not exactly the version of the story the Hormel people like to share.

Like so many aspects of our culture, the answer to the question “how did things get this way?” is “a combination of capitalism and bigotry.”


The Te Papa museum in Wellington had a display addressing the introduction of canned food to Pacific Islanders. Now known as Pisupo, this originally referred to pea soup, then canned food generically, now most often referencing corned beef.

ETA - Not sure how this relates to the article at hand, but the coincidence is striking.


Im part Hawaiian born and raised on Maui. I have never heard this version before. Makes sense. I wish more of the truth was told, good and bad. Thanks.


My California dad was a radioman in Hawaii during WWII. They were fed a diet rich in Spam and he was so sick of it by the time he returned home that he would not allow it in the house. Indeed, his normally good sense of humor became a bitter vacuum if someone attempted to joke about it. I’m not slamming Spam, just recalling how too much of a good thing can affect a person.


When I taught my food history class last semester, one of the students (a native Hawaiian) brought in Spam Musubi. It was delicious.


When I read this article about SPAM, I was reminded of these videos I saw during the pandemic of a young American traveling the world eating all kinds of local food. One day he went to visit his grandmother in Hawaii and stopped at a store just to buy this corned beef sushi.

I was betrayed by my memory. He went to a Restaurant.


I’ve been to the actual SPAM museum.


Back before Eternal September, in the mists of time, when most people didn’t know what the Internet was, or that it could be used to organize practical jokes, there was Spam Jake Day.


In the decades after the Second World War, the Japanese government turned to whaling to provide a cheap source of protein for children. Whale meat was widely used in school lunches, and it is said that nostalgia for school meals is one of the reasons why older Japanese politicians support whaling.

School meals themselves were introduced to Japan by the American occupation government. Reputedly they are how Japanese people developed a taste for spicy food, because school cooks would use spices to liven up cheap ingredients, including surplus food from US army bases (which might bring us back to Spam).


Yeah, I am “of a certain age” now, lol. And I definitely have fond memories of eating government cheese at my grandparent’s home. I also really like spam. It’s just part of the home cooking I grew up with. Like Whataburger, I can’t judge it in any way objectively.


I found the legendary spam musubi at an Oktoberfest in Fukuoka some years ago - just delish:

And then had army stew when visiting work colleagues in Seoul - equally awesome:


There is some sort of Spam Festival in Austin, TX. My uncle had an entry one time called Pig Newtons - Fig Newtons full of Spam…

ETA - fixed the joke name…


Excuse Me What GIF by Bounce


I screwed up the joke. He made PIG NEWTONS… Fig Newtons with Spam inside. I don’t know what the contest entailed per se, but that was what he made.