Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods
Corporation. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam
are chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water,
modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite to help keep
its color. Spam's gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling
of meat stock. The product has become part of many jokes and urban
legends about mystery meat, which has made it part of pop culture
Varieties of Spam vary by region and include Spam Classic, Spam
Hot & Spicy, Spam Less Sodium, Spam Lite, Spam Oven Roasted Turkey,
Hickory Smoked, and Spam Spread.
Spam sold in North America, South America, and Australia is
produced in Austin, Minnesota, (also known as Spam Town USA) and in
Fremont, Nebraska. Spam for the UK market is produced in Denmark by
Tulip under license from Hormel. Spam is also made in the
Philippines and in South Korea. In 2007, the seven billionth can of
Spam was sold.
Introduced on July 5, 1937, the
name "Spam" was chosen when the product, whose original name was far
less memorable (Hormel Spiced Ham), began to lose market share. The
name was chosen from multiple entries in a naming contest. A Hormel
official once stated that the original meaning of the name "Spam"
was "Shoulder of Pork and Ham".
According to writer Marguerite Patten in Spam � The Cookbook, the
name was suggested by Kenneth Daigneau, an actor and the brother of
a Hormel vice president, who was given a $100 prize for creating the
name. At one time, the official explanation was that the name was a
portmanteau of "Spiced Ham". According to the British
documentary-reality show "1940's House", when SPAM was offered by
the United States to those affected by World War II in the UK, SPAM
stood for Specially Processed American Meats.
Many jocular backronyms have been devised, such as "Something
Posing As Meat", "Specially Processed Artificial Meat", "Stuff, Pork
and Ham", "Spare Parts Animal Meat" and "Special Product of Austin
According to Hormel's trademark guidelines, Spam should be
spelled with all capital letters and treated as an adjective, as in
the phrase "SPAM luncheon meat".
Spam is typically sold in
cans with a net weight of 340 grams (12 ounces). A 56 gram (2 ounce)
serving of original Spam provides seven grams of protein, two grams
of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fat (23% US Daily Value) including 6
grams of saturated fat (28% U.S. Daily Value), and 170 calories. A
serving also contains nearly a third of the recommended daily intake
of sodium (salt). A 56 gram serving of Spam contains 767 mg of
sodium, equivalent to approximately 2 grams of salt, indicating
about 3.6% of Spam's mass is salt. Spam provides very little in
terms of vitamins and minerals (0% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C , 1%
calcium, 3% iron). It has been listed as a food that is a poor
choice for weight loss and optimum health and as a food that "is
high in saturated fat and sodium".
There are several different flavors
of Spam, including:
- Spam Classic - original flavor
- Spam Hot & Spicy - with tabasco flavor
- Spam Less Sodium - "25% less sodium"
- Spam Lite - "33% less calories and 50% less fat"
- Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
- Spam Hickory Smoke flavor
- Spam Spread - "if you're a spreader, not a slicer ... just
like Spam Classic, but in a spreadable form"
- Spam with Bacon
- Spam with Cheese
- Spam Garlic
- Spam Golden Honey Grail - a limited-release special flavor
made in honor of Monty Python's SPAMALOT Broadway musical
- Spam Mild
In addition to flavor, some of the tins come in smaller sizes
than normal, many consumers, however, consider this to be
beneficial. A more popular option is the 7 oz (200g) size can.
Recently, "Spam Singles" have been produced: a single sandwich-sized
slice of Spam (Classic or Lite), wrapped in plastic instead of a
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