There’s a large birthday notice splashed on the front page of the local newspaper today (3 October 2007). And the whole lead page of the Features section is given over to the celebrant.
No, it’s not a member of the Hawai’ian Royal Family. Or a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack. It’s not even a him or a her. It’s an it. It’s …
- [cue the Vikings]
… spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam …
Ayup. That’s right. The first can of Spam, that spreadable, allegedly edible, slab of fat and salt and nitrites and maybe a little bit of pork protein if your microscope is powerful enough, first hit store shelves seventy years ago today.
“The World’s Favorite Canned Meat.”
OK, mainland Americans. Hands up. How many of you would be caught dead with a can of Spam in the house? Anybody?? I thought not. The ridicule would be more than flesh and blood can bear. And the local paper knows it. The story never showed up on its website.
Here in Hawai’i? It’s everywhere. People buy the stuff in case lots. You can even get it served with your breakfast sandwich at your favorite fast food palace.
Hey. It’s cheap. It’s … well … strongly flavored. And people are familiar with it. Have been ever since World War II, when it was issued as canned rations to everybody on the island – since just about everybody on the island was either in the military or helping to feed it. A reminder that we probably wouldn’t have food in tin cans if it weren’t for the military; canned food was invented in response to a competition hosted by Napoleon Bonaparte, who sought a way to preserve large volumes of food for his army.
And in a place with such a high cost of living as here, where lots of the people you don’t see promenading on Waikiki have to make choices between paying rent and buying groceries, cheap is good.
Come to think of it, the people who, through my life, have razzed me the most about Spam were the same ones who gave me grief about yellow lettuce. “We can do better. What’s your problem?”
Um … the rent?
– O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2007 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.