What do you think of Spam? A lot of people love it; some don’t. Hormel Foods’ Spam Tiny House of Sizzle, on Aug. 9, completed its 14-city U.S. tour. (It did not visit Florida.) The purpose of the tour, says Hormel: “to thank everyone who makes SPAM® Brand what it is today.” / Courtesy of Hormel Foods

Spam — you know, that potted-meat-in-a-can stuff — is much like the Gremlin: Either you loved the car or you hated it. What do you think of Spam?

If you’re of a certain age, you might remember the Gremlin, a 1970s-era American Motors Corp. car. CBS News once rated it No. 6 in its list of World’s 15 Ugliest Cars. No. 1 on the list: the Ford Pinto, mainly because, in addition to its lack of aesthetic appeal, the small car’s gas tank sometimes exploded on rear impact.

Spam has staying power

Well, the Gremlin and the Pinto are long gone. But Spam lives on. In fact, the canned pork product turned 80 on July 5. Clearly, Spam has stood the test of time and meets the needs of a wide variety of consumers.


Of course, Spam has long been much maligned by those who don’t like it. In fact, unwanted email is called “spam,” and whose internet service provider doesn’t offer a “Spam” folder to filter out junk email?

Nevertheless, a lot of people do like it — or at least eat it. Otherwise, how would you explain the 8 billion cans of Spam that Hormel Foods, its maker, has sold since July 5, 1937?

Some like it hot. One of the 16 varieties of Spam. / J.D. Vivian

What do you think of Spam?

The good points of Spam

It’s simple. Spam Classic has just six ingredients: pork with ham; salt; water; potato starch; sugar; and sodium nitrite, a preservative.

Its rich history. Spam is the product of a huge corporation with gross revenues of $9.52 billion and profits of $2.6 billion in its fiscal year ended Oct. 30, 2016 (source: nasdaq.com). Yet despite Hormel Foods’ capitalist trappings, Spam earned the praise of none other than … you’ll never guess … anti-capitalist and former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

In his memoir, Khrushchev Remembers, he wrote about how Spam helped the Soviet Union during World War II. “There were many jokes going around … some of them off-color, about American Spam; it tasted good, nonetheless. Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army. We had lost our most fertile lands.”

Its longevity. An unopened can of this shelf-stable protein will last for years. And that longevity leads to the next good point:

Its versatility (and practicality). In addition to Russian soldiers, the 15 million cans of Spam shipped each week to Europe fed U.S. troops during World War II. Today, the product is still used around the world in areas suffering food scarcity, as well as in disaster-relief situations.

(You might have good points of your own to add to the above.)

What do you think of Spam

Consumers now have options when it comes to Spam, and the product stores for a long time. Small cans of Spam Classic, the original (and now 80-year-old) version, are second from left. Most of these cans showed expiration dates of April or May 2020 — about two years and nine months from now. / J.D. Vivian

Spam’s not-so-good points

It’s not vegetarian. Pigs die to make Spam.

It’s salty. So it’s most likely not for those on a low-sodium diet.

It contains sugar. That’s a potential problem for dieters and for those with a high blood-sugar level.

(Again, you might have your own not-so-good points to add.)

So here is our question: What do you think of Spam? Love it? Hate it? Neutral? Can’t decide? We want your comments!

For more information about Hormel Foods or Spam, visit hormel.com or spam.com.