July 5, 1937: Hormel Foods Corporation introduces Spam.
This famous meat product derives its name from a portmanteau of the words “spiced” and “ham”. According to the company’s website, it was “an essential item in soldiers’ diets” during World War II, providing an acceptable substitute for fresh meat, which would have been difficult to transport to the front. Fifteen million cans of Spam were provided each week to soldiers fighting overseas, and it was during this time that the product was introduced in Guam, the Philippine Islands, Hawaii, and other islands in the Pacific, where it remains a unique part of the local culture. According to PRI’s The World, Guam is the world’s leading consumer per capita of Spam.
Spam is also popular in South Korea, whose perception of the product is quite different form that of Americans. Naturally, it was introduced there during wartime as well; in postwar Korea, food was scarce, and any sort of meat - even leftovers from American military bases - was greatly appreciated. By 2007, seven billion cans of Spam products had been produced. Today, it celebrates its 75th birthday, so… happy birthday!