Spam, legendary processed meat in a can
World War II Played An Important Role In SPAM's Popularity In Hawaii
By Heidi Chaya
SPAM's recipe has barely changed since 1937, and if there are doubts about its solid foothold in American food culture, know that many have incorporated flavorful varieties (including pumpkin spice SPAM). Today, Pacific Islander and Asian-American chefs have a complicated relationship with SPAM, and the processed pork is more popular in Hawaii than anywhere else (per SPAM Brand).
Hormel Foods began shipping vast quantities of SPAM products to troops fighting in World War II in the 1940s. In the Pacific, SPAM became inextricably linked to the American military and the post-war recovery efforts as a constant reminder of hardship, and when the war was over, SPAM had become part of local cuisine in parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including Hawaii.
Today, SPAM can be found throughout Hawaii — there's even a celebration dedicated to it in Waikiki, brilliantly called Spam Jam. Perhaps the most well-known SPAM dish is SPAM musubi, a slice of fried SPAM wrapped around a slab of pressed white rice with nori seaweed, attributed to a Japanese-American woman named Barbara Funamura, who lived in Hawaii.