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Hormel Spam

Is this Spam?

by John Raven, Ph. B.

Don't hit the delete button! This is a different kind of Spam. This Spam doesn't offer you a great deal on swampland in Florida or a miracle cure for your allergies. It's good old Spam, the breakfast of champions in the can. Ah, yes, tofu may thrill you, but Spam turns the wheels of America and several foreign countries.

In 1926 Hormel Foods began marketing "Flavor Sealed Ham", which was ham in a can. It proved to be a popular, low cost item that got lots of folk through the Great Depression. In 1937, Hormel started canning the chopped pork shoulder that we see today. The government told them they could not call it "ham" so, after a brain storming session, the name Spam was born.

Spam was quite popular with the military during WWII since it needed no refrigeration. Some of the GIs may been over-exposed to Spam, and that is probably where the popular practice of maligning Spam came from.

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My trip to the grocer's today for research and development found five varieties of the original product from Hormel Foods. The original flavor comes in the old familiar blue can. The Oven Roasted Turkey comes in a brown coded can. The Smoke Flavor has maroon label decorations, and the experimental Spam with Cheese has orange on the label. The low sodium Spam has less salt, but still costs the same. All were priced at two dollars a can. That works out to two dollars and sixty-seven cents a pound. Not bad considering real ham can run six or seven dollars a pound.

The original recipe Spam contains: pork with ham and seasonings. The turkey variety is said to contain 100 percent white meat turkey and seasonings. The smoke-flavored contains chicken in addition to its pork, ham and seasonings, and the cheese variety has pork, chicken and American cheese. You takes your pick. I really don't care for artificial smoke flavor. I'd just as soon grill my regular Spam for a better smoke flavor.

For you calorie counters, the original recipe tips the scale with 180 calories per 2-ounce serving, and the cheese and smoke flavor share a 170 calorie count, while the turkey variety comes in at a waist-slimming 80 calories per serving with only 35 of those calories coming from fat. There are a lot of Spam knock-offs on the shelves. Before you buy any of them, check the ingredient list carefully. Sometimes you find strange things in there. The old reliable Hormel Foods brands have been around a long time and use good ingredients.

Getting Spam out of the can be a puzzle sometimes. The Spam I remember from my youth had a key attached to the bottom of the can. You detached the key and there was a metal tap on the can that you fitted through the slot in the key and then wound a strip of tin off the side of the can to get at the contents. It took a while to get the hang of winding that strip of tin without slicing your finger. Now all the Spam cans have pop-tops and the original recipe has opening instructions on the label. They say to remove the top, squeeze the ends of the can together until it pops and then tap it on the edge of the dish. In theory that works well but, when push comes to shove, you are a lot better off turning the can upside down when you get the top off and poking a hole in the bottom to break the vacuum. It's light metal and won't take much of a poke with a sharp knife, but do be careful. Then the Spam should slide right out. If it don't, pry it with a fork a little.

Now that you have decanned your Spam, here are some recipes that I like:

Spam Salad

  • 1 can of Spam, regular or low-salt
  • ¼ cup diced white onion
  • ¼ cup diced sweet or dill pickle
  • 1 large hard boiled egg, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • Kraft Sandwich Spread or Salad Dressing to taste
Decan the Spam. Either grind or use a food processor to reduce it to consistency of coarse hamburger. Mix with other ingredients using enough Sandwich Spread or Salad Dressing to get the spreading consistency you desire. Chill thoroughly. Serve as dip with chips or crackers or make into sandwiches.

Spam and Eggs

    Any flavor Spam works here.

    Slice Spam into 3/8 inch thick slices, and fry in butter until it begins to brown. Keep it warm while you cook your eggs. Or use two pans and cook Spam and eggs simultaneously if you are the adventuresome type. Fry or scramble two large eggs per serving. If scrambling, add about a teaspoon of water to the bowl as you whip the eggs. Fry eggs in butter to personal taste. Season with salt and black pepper. Place two slices of the fried Spam on a serving plate and sprinkle lightly with Louisiana Hot Sauce. Place eggs in a vacant spot. Serve with hot biscuits or toast, hash browns or grits optional. You can use a zesty picante sauce to replace the hot sauce of you like.

    Hot Spam Sandwich

    If you use Spam and Cheese, omit the extra cheese. For each serving you'll need:

    • 2 slices sandwich-size French or Italian bread (don't use the mushy white stuff)
    • 2 slices Spam, ½ inch thick
    • 1 thick slice or two thin slices of American cheese
    • Sandwich spread optional
    Lightly butter the bread on one side, and grill in a hot skillet until golden. Put on a serving plate toasted side up. Fry the Spam in butter, and place two slices, side by side on one slice of the bread. Top with cheese, cover with other piece of bread. Carefully return the assembled sandwich to the skillet and grill until both sides are golden. At this time, the cheese should be melted to perfection. Serve warm.

    Cold Spam Sandwich

    Any flavor Spam, will do. If you use Spam and Cheese, omit the extra cheese.

    For each serving, use

    • 2 slices sandwich-size French, Italian or sourdough bread.
    • 2 slices Spam
    • 2 slices American cheese
    • Kraft Sandwich Spread, tomato slices, lettuce, sliced pickle, as you prefer
    Give one side of each of the slices of bread a light smear of the sandwich spread. Put in Spam and cheese, and top with whatever else you deem proper.

    Grilled Spam

    Since Spam is fully cooked, it needs only warming and a good glaze of your favorite zesty barbecue sauce or other glaze. Pineapple preserves with a little Tabasco mixed in is a treat. You can slice the Spam or leave the loaf whole.

    This is good practice for a novice griller who wants to learn to apply a glaze without the expense of prime beef. You can eat your mistakes or if they are too severe, the dog will appreciate them.

    Don't forget to try Spam-kabobs. Cubes of Spam mixed with veggies for grilling. Again, apply a glaze.

    Spam Supreme

    Regular or low sodium will work best here.

    • 1 or more cans of Spam. Calculate one-third to one-half can per serving.
    Place the Spam in a shallow baking dish. Score the Spam in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife. Insert four or six whole cloves. Top with a pineapple ring. Brush warm pineapple preserves over all. Bake in a hot oven until the edges begin to brown. Tell your guests to pick out the cloves before eating the Spam.

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