Everyone has a different reaction when they think about Spam. If you grew up in Hawaii, for instance, Spam might very well be a beloved favorite that you eat several times a week. Hawaii has the highest Spam consumption rate in the country and it has been a staple since WWII, when GIs brought over lots of shelf-stable products that could handle the long trip to the islands. If you didn’t grow up eating Spam, the product might be a bit more mysterious to you – after all, why would you eat spiced ham from a can when you could eat a “regular” piece of ham?
The answer is the same one that the GIs had when they first brought Spam to the islands: it was convenient. The reason that Spam became such a lasting hit is that it is delicious – surprisingly so, for those who didn’t grow up eating much Spam! – when prepared well and it is very versatile. It will only take one trip to a Hawaiian restaurant to get an idea of just how much you can do with Spam.
Hawaii isn’t the only state that appreciates Spam, however, and you can see Spam brand recipe contests at country fairs all over the country. The winning recipes come from cooks of all ages who aren’t afraid to think outside of the can and see what kind of interesting things they can make with Spam. The winning recipe from last year was for Spam Rubin Rollups, a baked appetizer that is a twist on a classic Rubin, which uses Spam in place of corned beef. Corned beef is a salt cured product which, like Spam, also has a history of being packaged in cans and was an important food source for soldiers during WWII. Swapping corned beef out for Spam is easy and the results are very tasty – even if you’re not that familiar with Spam in the first place!
If you think that you can get creative with Spam yourself, you should start experimenting with recipe and plan to enter the Great American Spam Championship during the 2015 fair season. The contest, which has been held since 1990, boasts some great prizes at the local level and a chance to win a trip to the Waikiki SPAM JAM® Festival for the grand prize winning recipe. To get you inspired, other winning Spam recipes use the meat like bacon, frying it up in small pieces until it is crisp and using it to add a crunchy, salty element to a dish, like mini Maple Spam Donuts or treating it like sausage and turning it into twist on a pig-in-a-blanket in a batch of Spam French Toast Sticks.
I’ll be covering SPAM JAM myself this year, so tune in to the Baking Bites social media pages – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – for more inspiration and pictures from the festival and around Waikiki!
Update: Check out my full post on SpamJam!
Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with The Blue Ribbon Group. The opinions and commentary given are my own and are completely original.