Pumpkin Spice Spam Is Officially a Thing Now
Now that fall is officially here, it’s time to ring in the season with all the pumpkin spice-flavored foods and drinks you can find.
From the OG PSL to a limited-edition pumpkin spice sneaker, there’s no shortage of goodies to help you express your love for fall. But in case you want a savory treat to pair with your Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, you’re in luck: Pumpkin spice Spam now exists (and no, this is not a joke).
Spam, the classic canned cooked pork brand, is getting in on the seasonal pumpkin trend, and we’re not sure whether to be delighted or horrified—or perhaps a little bit of both. (Related: 8 Facts About Pumpkin That Will Blow Your Gourd)
Beginning today, Spam lovers can try the new Spam Pumpkin Spice (Buy It, $9, walmart.com), which features “a blend of seasonal spices including cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg to give it a subtle sweetness,” according to a press release from Hormel Foods, the manufacturer behind the canned creation.
ICYMI, Hormel announced plans for Spam Pumpkin Spice back in August. Understandably, people had mixed feelings about it at first.
But now that the product has officially launched, it seems like people have actually warmed up to the idea.
For a limited time, Spam Pumpkin Spice will be sold exclusively on Spam.com and Walmart.com “while supplies last,” per Hormel’s press release.
“Early reviews from consumers note the product is a mix of rich savory flavors with a hint of sweetness, making it a perfect and easy answer for those warm flavor cravings in the fall,” Jason Hron, SPAM brand manager, said in a statement for the press release. (Related: 10 Creative Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin In All Your Recipes)
Even better: Hormel cooked up three recipes for you to try with Spam Pumpkin Spice—pumpkin spice grilled cheese, pumpkin spice topped waffles, and a pumpkin spice fall vegetable hash—which all sound pretty delicious.
Granted, Spam Pumpkin Spice is a bit of an indulgent breakfast treat, considering it has 6 grams of saturated fat and 600 milligrams of sodium per serving. The American Heart Association recommends about 13 grams of saturated fat and 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, so moderation is key when enjoying Spam’s latest product.
Feeling inspired by fall food? These pumpkin health benefits will make you want to eat even more of the stuff.
- By Arielle Tschinkel
Spam unfairly gets a bad rap
SEATTLE — On a recent cross-country road trip, I visited the Hormel Foods factory and neighboring Spam Museum in Austin, Minn. The air surrounding the factory smells just like Spam. If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably gagging at the thought of Spam-scented air. I say, take another sniff. Because if you set aside Spam’s long-standing reputation as a pink, slimy, salty block of sodium, you just might smell something you want to eat.
Why, America, do we treat Spam like the school outcast who’s just too square for our liking? We’ve been buddy-buddy with hot dogs and pepperoni for ages just because they’re the sporty meats at carnivore college. If more people gave Spam a chance, they’d see that it not only tastes better than hot dogs, it also aligns quite nicely with current foodie trends. They’d also see that it’s an exciting ingredient with boundless culinary potential. (Hint: You’re an idiot if you eat it straight out of the can.)
The only part of the country that fully appreciates Spam’s promise is not Hormel’s home state of Minnesota but Hawaii, where the canned meat is served and loved everywhere from fast-food restaurants to an annual “Spam Jam” street festival. Spam might not seem like a traditional island food, but Hawaiians know a good thing when they see it, and Spam has been a Hawaiian favorite for almost as long as the iconic canned meat has existed.
Spam hit grocery shelves in 1937, distinguishing itself from other brands of ready-to-eat canned ham with a clutchable can size and relatively short ingredient list. (Ironically, given its current reputation, Spam was intended to be a higher-quality alternative to the other tinned mystery meats on the market.) When war broke out a few years later, the U.S. military distributed it to GIs since it was inexpensive and filling, didn’t spoil, and shipped easily. “For every soldier who swore he would never eat Spam again and stuck to it, there seemed to be two who became Spam customers as a result of being introduced to it during the war,” writes Carol Wyman in “Spam: A Biography.” Meanwhile, on the home front, consumers, otherwise mostly meat-deprived, could use their ration stamps to buy Spam on a limited basis. In a Hawaii, which was geographically isolated and faced food shipping interruptions during the war, Spam was a godsend, says Arnold Hiura, a food historian and author of “Kau Kau: Cuisine & Culture in the Hawaiian Islands.”
After the war, Spam remained a practical source of nourishment for Hawaii’s mid-20th-century sugar and pineapple plantation workers because it didn’t need to be refrigerated and could sit out in the sun in a lunch pail without rotting. It was a common food among Hawaii’s Japanese, Chinese, Korean Filipino, Portuguese and Puerto Rican workers — an edible analog to Hawaiian Creole English, the shared dialect that had developed decades earlier. Plus, salty Spam was the perfect complement to rice, a staple of the Hawaiian diet, and a cheap way to get meat on the table in a state with a high cost of living.
Hawaii’s plantation era is over, but Spam’s still a local darling, a reminder of a different time. On the islands, there’s no shame in eating Spam. On the contrary, you’re kind of weird if you don’t like it. Hawaii consumes more Spam per capita than any other state, with five cans eaten per person per year — about 7 million cans total — according to Nicole Behne, a Spam senior product manager.
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It’s time for the rest of America to catch up with Hawaii. Though Hawaii’s love of Spam is the product of historical forces, there’s nothing outdated about appreciating the canned meat. In fact, Spam is a paragon of modern foodie ideals.
Consider that Spam contains not only ham (meat from the hind leg of the pig) but also pork shoulder. Today, pork shoulder is beloved by chefs and home cooks, but when Spam first hit the shelves, it was an underutilized and underappreciated cut. Hormel took that underrated meat and transformed it into a salty, meaty treat. “It’s a centuries-old idea,” says Hawaiian chef Alan Wong, who pays homage to Spam in his eponymous Honolulu restaurant. “You get all your trimmings and you turn them into sausage or a meatloaf or pate or a terrine.” I’ve never seen a meat-eater turn up his nose at sausage or pate — what rational basis is there, then, for eschewing their all-American cousin?
In fact, Spam is even simpler a concoction than most pates — it almost passes Michael Pollan’s five-ingredient test. (In “In Defense of Food,” Pollan argues that, to avoid eating too many processed foods, you shouldn’t buy anything containing more than five ingredients.) I’m not here to argue that Spam’s secretly been a health food all these years, but consider this: Hot dogs, which Americans eat with abandon, contain around 15 ingredients, many of them obscure chemicals. Spam contains six: pork (shoulder and ham), salt, water, sugar, sodium nitrite, and potato starch. (The last of these forms the goo on Spam that grosses some people out.) Sodium nitrite, which preserves meat and prevents bacterial growth, has a bad rap but its effects on health aren’t fully understood (and, in any event, we consume more nitrites from vegetables than from cured meats).
And thanks to Spam’s simplicity, it makes a wonderful ingredient in its own right. Chef Gordon Ramsay gave voice to a common misperception last year when he said he decided to become a chef to escape the “sliced, disgusting … Spam” his mother often served when he was a child. Well, if you serve “Spam straight out of a can” the way Ramsay says his mother did, you’re doing it wrong. Spam is fully cooked and technically comes ready to serve, but only the unimaginative stop there.
For creative cooks, a can of Spam is as versatile of a blank slate as a chicken breast. Wong incorporates house-made Spam, which he calls Spong (“when Spam meets Wong”) into several dishes at his upscale restaurant. He serves it in tortillas with classic taco garnishes, sandwiches it in baguettes for banh mi, and rolls it into Spam meatballs.
Hiura prefers to serve Spam like bacon: sliced extra thin, fried until brown and crispy, and eaten with eggs and rice. He also likes to prepare it with a teriyaki-like sauce and stir-fry it with vegetables, or eat it with saimin (Hawaii’s version of ramen). Hawaiian fast-food restaurants offer tasty Spam-based recipe ideas, too: You can buy it alongside Portuguese sausage, eggs, and rice in a McDonald’s breakfast platter and in a Croissan’wich at Burger King.
But if you’re looking for the most iconic Hawaiian Spam dish, look no further than Spam musubi — basically, Spam rice balls. “It has taken over as the favorite way to eat Spam,” says Ann Kondo Corum, whose “Hawaii’s Spam Cookbook” and its sequel are local best-sellers. She dedicated an entire section to Spam musubi varieties in the second book. The essential formulation consists of a block of white rice (molded in either a special musubi mold or the bottom of an empty Spam can), topped with a slice of fried and seasoned Spam, all wrapped in a strip of dried nori (seaweed).
In other words, Spam musubi looks a lot like sushi — and that comparison may be instructive. Just a few short decades ago, most Americans wouldn’t have dreamt of eating raw fish. Today, sushi is ubiquitous. It’s amazing how delicious the results can be when you open your mind.
• Weaver is a writer living in the Seattle area. She is originally from Kailua, Hawaii.
Is Spam Good or Bad For Dogs?
We wouldn’t be wrong if we were to say that Spam is one of the most controversial foods in the world. Some people believe that it is an affordable and tasty protein source. But there is also a bunch of people who raise their concerns regarding the quality of its ingredients. But what is the real answer?
Spam is not good for your tail-wagger because it is a processed food with a lot of ingredients that might be harmful to your dog. This answer might surprise you because you might think that there is no way a meat product can be anything other than a good source of protein for dogs.
We’ll explain the reasons why Spam is bad for dogs by looking at the ingredients one by one. Before that, let’s look at what Spam is.
What is Spam?
Spam is a canned food made from ground pork and ham. It first became popular during World War 2 because it was a cheap way to feed the soldiers that are overseas.
Other than pork and ham, Spam contains a bunch of other ingredients such as sugar, salt, potato starch, and sodium nitrite.
Other than that, a lot of preservatives and additives used during its making to prolong its shelf life.
Let’s take a look at those ingredients.
Why is Spam Bad For Dogs?
Spam is loaded with salt. We should mention that salt is necessary for both humans and dogs to maintain their lives. Salt is beneficial for regulating the blood pressure and balancing the fluids in the body.
But it is hard to say consuming a lot of salt is healthy and necessary without caveats. Because a diet with too much salt can cause several issues for dogs such as cardiovascular disease and it can even damage the brain health.
The owners of the senior dogs should especially be careful because they are not successful at tolerating too much salt consumption as the young ones. Also, there is a chance that too much salt can worsen the symptoms of certain diseases in senior dogs.
The amount of salt in Spam is excessive for any dog, and that is why there is a chance it can cause the issues that we mentioned above.
Sugar is also used in Spam to make it more flavorful. You already probably know that sugar should be minimized or even eliminated in a dog’s diet.
Because sugar consumption causes spikes in the blood sugar, and that can cause several issues.
The first one is the weight gain. Sugar is nothing but empty calories. So, if your pooch consumes too much sugar, there is a good chance that he will get overweight or get diabetes.
Obesity is common in dogs, and we wouldn’t be wrong if we say that one of the culprits is too much sugar consumption.
Other than that, too much sugar could lower a dog’s immune system, and it may harm the hormone balance.
Also, we should mention that dogs have very similar taste buds to us. That means they get the same pleasure that we get when they eat sugar because sugar will make your pup’s brain to release dopamine.
That is the reason why sugar is addictive. That will cause him to want more in the future.
It might be a little unexpected to see potato starch among the ingredients of a meat product. But actually, potato starch is not potato.
It is a by-product of potato processing. It is a cheap filler used in processed foods by manufacturers.
Potato starch has little nutritional value because the skin must be removed to process the potato. That takes out most of the healthy nutrients and vitamins in it.
It will be just unnecessary carbs for your pooch. That is not ideal for dogs since they should get most of their nutrition from protein.
Spam contains an ingredient called sodium nitrite. It is a common additive used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in foods. The manufacturers also use it to improve the flavor and the appearance of a product.
Sodium nitrite is associated with cancer and type 1 diabetes. So, it is very harmful to your pooch.
Spam is a Processed Food
The ingredients that we mentioned above are among the ingredients because Spam is processed food. So, the manufacturer wanted to make it as tasty as possible while keeping it on the shelves as long as possible.
That is the reason it contains too much salt, sugar, and other preservatives.
Is Spam Good For Dogs?
Spam contains protein and dogs need protein to sustain their lives. Protein is an essential part of a dog’s diet.
Other than that, it is very high in some fats that are healthy for dogs. Fat is essential for the absorption of vitamins like A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are critical for a healthy brain and organs.
Also, Spam contains some micronutrients in it, such as zinc, potassium, iron, and copper. They are all necessary for dogs and have several health benefits.
Conclusion: Is Spam Good or Bad For Dogs?
There are some good reasons why people believe that Spam is not healthy food. Because it is a highly processed meat product with a lot of additives and preservatives.
It contains sugar, which should never be in a dog’s diet and can cause issues such as diabetes and weight gain.
It contains an excessive amount of salt, which can be harmful to especially senior dogs.
Another ingredient used in it is potato starch, and it has little nutritional value.
The fact that it is a meat product and filled with protein doesn’t change our mind because of all the harmful ingredients. So, unfortunately, Spam is not good for dogs, and you should not feed it to your tail-wagger.
Climate change continues to force its filthy, polluted hands around the necks of Earth and its people, and since our world leaders refuse to listen, now seems like as good a time as any to start working on stocking your doomsday bunker. And what better way to do just that than by hoarding a whole bunch of canned meat, since we can go ahead and kiss fresh, living animals goodbye?
Then again, what good is a doomsday bunker if the only food you have is going to result in a quick case of heart disease, diabetes or any other form of general malnutrition that will inevitably result in a prompt and painful death? No good! So I asked Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, to help me rank a whole bunch of canned meats by how unhealthy they are — from “could keep you alive and well in a bunker” to “I should have just gone extinct with the rest of the animals.”
First, though, a quick lesson on why canning keeps things from spoiling: What happens is, the food is exposed to high temperatures, either before or after the can is sealed, to kill all the bacteria. Then, since the can is airtight and the food in the can is completely sterile, it simply doesn’t spoil (for a good couple of years, at least).
Unfortunately, that extreme heating process also negatively affects the taste, texture and sometimes — but not always — even the nutritional value of the food. But the world is ending, so canned food is our only option, and we’re just going to have to roll with it.
Now let’s rank some canned meats — quick, before the world ends…
1) Canned Sardines and Salmon (tied): Hunnes says these are the healthiest of the bunch, “since they rarely have too much added sodium, unless the sardines are in a sauce, and they at least have healthy omega-3s in them.” One can of Bumble Bee sardines has 310 milligrams of sodium, and one can of StarKist salmon has 200 milligrams, neither of which are that much — the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, and in an ideal world, most adults should have no more than 1,500 milligrams. Omega-3s, meanwhile, help prevent heart disease.
Hunnes does have one caveat, though. “There’s a lot of plastic in the oceans, and that makes me wary of any fish,” she says. Looks like even after we escape from our broken world, we can’t escape from constant reminders of how we broke it.
3) Canned Tuna: Hunnes says canned tuna comes next, because it’s “frequently saltier than sardines and salmon , and depending on the type of tuna, would have more mercury and plastic residue than other fish. The largest species of tuna tend to have more of these toxins accumulate in them — chunk lite is usually safest.” See, tuna is a predatory fish, and it collects mercury, plastic and toxins from the various other fish in its diet. The good news is that tuna, much like sardines and salmon, is high in omega-3s.
4) Canned Turkey and Chicken Breast (tied): According the Hunnes, canned turkey and chicken come next, since they tend to be low(ish) in sodium, could have less heart disease potential than red meat and boast “at least a bit of a healthier nutrient profile than the next round of items.”
For instance, nutritionist David Friedman, author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction, once told me that turkey is the healthiest part of a Thanksgiving spread. “Rich in protein, potassium , zinc and niacin , turkey gets the number one spot as the healthiest pick for a Thanksgiving meal,” he explained. “Turkey is also an excellent source of B12, which helps prevent the buildup of homocysteine, an amino acid that may decrease cognitive function — in other words, eating turkey makes you smarter.”
Chicken breast, meanwhile, is a solid source of selenium (which protects against free radicals), phosphorus (which supports bones and teeth), vitamin B6 (which helps the body metabolize proteins, carbs and fats), and again, niacin. So all things considered, canned turkey and chicken are okay bets.
6) Canned Beef: Canned cow is next on our list, according to Hunnes, simply because it’s the “least processed of the remaining items, but beef isn’t particularly healthy by any means, and it’s not so great for the environment, either.” Good thing the environment will be over and done with by the time you’re eating this stuff!
The big downside with beef (and red meat in general), as we’ve already been over, is that it’s high in unhealthy fats, which can raise cholesterol levels, which can then result in your heart quitting on you. On the plus side, one 14.5-ounce can of beef contains a whopping 88 grams of protein, although a single serving size is a laughable two ounces, which would then only sport 11 grams. You should probably stick to the serving size, too, since chowing down on the entire can would result in you taking in 960 milligrams of sodium.
7) Canned Roast Beef Hash: This is similar to canned beef. “It has a ton of sodium in it and again, not so great for health (red meats are more dangerous than white meats) — also, not so good for the environment,” Hunnes says. Each can also comes with a sprinkling of diced potatoes, though, which provide a good form of carbohydrates and can give you some much-needed energy while you sit around in your bunker, wishing the world leaders would have done something in a timely manner so you could go outside.
8) Canned Bacon: Next up, Hunnes says canned bacon “has less sodium than some of the other remaining items, but it’s a processed meat with likely carcinogens in it. All processed meats are considered class I carcinogens by the World Health Organization.”
The ingredients behind this canned bacon being dangerous and carcinogenic? Sodium phosphates, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite. At least one study suggests phosphate additives contribute to the prevalence of chronic kidney disease, and if you’re sensitive to sodium erythorbate, you may experience side effects like headaches, dizziness, fatigue, lethargy and body flushing. Sodium nitrite, meanwhile, is arguably the worst, since it can result in the formation of small amounts of nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.
9) Canned Vienna Sausages: Put bluntly, Hunnes says these contain “much more sodium, are a processed meat, are carcinogenic and aren’t good for you in the least.” Damn, son. Again, we also see sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite in these tiny Johnsons, so maybe just steer clear.
10) Spam: “The original ‘canned’ meat, Spam is processed, salty and carcinogenic,” Hunnes says. “Again, not good for you at all.” Yet again, Spam has sodium nitrite in it, and as I concluded in my recent exploration of the ingredients in this canned pork cube, “Spam is loaded with carcinogenic meat, brimming with sodium and laden with a preservative that could have deadly side effects. Moreover, Spam boasts virtually zero important vitamins and minerals.”
Welp, that’s about it. Sad, I know, but hey, maybe if we send this article to world leaders and they see how horrible eating will be when climate change finally ends the world, they’ll actually do something about it. Remember, Trump, even McDonald’s needs real cows to put together a Big Mac.
Ian Lecklitner is a staff writer at MEL Magazine. He mostly writes about everyone’s favorite things: Sex, drugs and food.