Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… is there any food product that’s more divisive than Spam? When it comes to Spam you either love it or you hate it, and it’s actually one of the more intriguing food products out there, with a long, wild history. Here are six things that you probably didn’t know about this legendary tinned lunchmeat.
1. The Name is Still a Mystery
While many assume that SPAM is short for “spiced ham,” only a handful of people know its true origin — and they’re not telling. The name was actually suggested in naming contest by Ken Daigneau, a Hormel VP’s brother, before the product was introduced in 1937. Daigneau won a naming contest and $100. Other theories under the acronym category include “special processed American meat” and “shoulders of pork and ham.”
2. It’s Not Mystery Meat
Hormel has always been pretty open about what goes into the can, even though people continue to be wary of it. It’s made with pork shoulder and ham, along with salt, water, sugar, potato starch, and nitrites. It’s basically made from the same stuff as hot dogs.
3. It’s Incredibly Unhealthy
Should you decide to set about consuming a whole can, you’ll be eating nearly 100 grams of fat, more than 1,000 calories, 240 milligrams of cholesterol, and a whopping 4,696 milligrams of sodium, nearly double the USDA's recommended daily allowance.
4. It Powered the Russians During WWII
While it’s common knowledge that Spam was popular with American servicemen during WWII, a whopping 100 million pounds of the stuff was consumed by Russian forces during the war as well. “Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army,” Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev later said.
5. There was Once Kosher Spam
During the 2000s, a kosher variety known as Loof was distributed as field rations by the Israeli military. Made from chicken or beef, it was phased out in 2008.
6. The Amount Produced is Insane
44,000 cans of spam, or 33,000 pounds, are produced every hour worldwide, to be consumed in more than 40 countries. That’s a whole lot of Spam.