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So What Is Spam?

A can of Spam sits on a wooden board.
Miro Vrlik Photography/Shutterstock.com

Many people think of Spam as some kind of mystery meat. It’s been the butt of plenty of jokes and stereotypes over the years, even though it’s actually one of the greatest business success stories to ever exist. Spam has actually been around since 1937, and the recipe and processes really haven’t changed much since then.

But, what is Spam, really? What’s the deal with this infamous canned meat?

Despite some stereotypes and myths, Spam is cooked and pressed meat that is only made with pork shoulder and pork ham. There are no strange scraps in the mixture, and the meat used isn’t just “leftovers” from other prepackaged products.

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Some people prefer to fry their Spam, and hey, why not?

In fact, Spam only has six ingredients—pork shoulder, pork ham, salt, pure sugar, potato starch (to bind the meat), and sodium nitrate for preservation. There’s nothing “mysterious” about it.

While nowadays, Spam might be considered an economical choice for meat, once upon a time it was a U.S. staple. During WWII, the United States purchased $150 million of Spam because it was the only type of meat available that could withstand long boat trips to other countries.

Spam provided a source of protein and familiarity to the soldiers overseas. This is also why Spam is still incredibly popular in Hawaii today since it was introduced by the military during World War II.

So, the next time you pass the cans of Spam in your grocery store, don’t stick up your nose. It’s a simple product that has stood the test of time, and when it’s prepared correctly, it can actually be a really delicious dish.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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