Why is Spam so Popular in Hawaii?
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If you had a chance to go into any grocery store or mini-marts here in Kauai, you probably have noticed this sushi-looking thing that they sell, that looks like a piece of meat and rice wrapped in a piece of seaweed and covered with plastic. What’s that? Hey if you don’t know it already, it’s spam musubi, a popular local dish for lunch or a quick snack. Spam is a brand of precooked canned meat that became really popular during WWII, because it has a long shelf-life and can be eaten directly from a can without cooking. Since so many soldiers were stationed in Hawaii during the war, military-issued spam was used to barter with, and was quickly adopted into the local diet. Japanese immigrants in Hawaii used spam to make their regular sushi called onirigi. And that eventually became the Spam musubi we know today.
Now, on the mainland, you folks probably don’t think of spam as a cuisine, right? I mean, most people think of it as cheap, over-processed and non-nutritious. That’s why those unwanted emails are called spam mails, right? And you can’t find spam at Whole Foods, for sure. But just how much do the locals here love their spam? Well, first, Hawaii has the highest consumption of Spam per capita as a state. In addition to musubi, spam is also eaten with rice and eggs as a breakfast dish. So knowing that, the company that owns Spam, sells a special Hawaii-edition that features a hula girl, a shaka hand, or a flower lei on the packaging. And if that’s not enough, there is a Spam Festival in Hawaii that draws about 30k attendees every year. You'll find a variety of flavors on grocery shelves, ranging from hickory smoke to garlic. And to take it to the next level, you can even find spam dishes at some upscale fine-dining restaurants in Hawaii. Well, there you have it. So now you know why Hawaii loves its spam. So while you are here on your vacation, grab a spam musubi and give it a try. Trust me, you’ll love it!
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