Waikiki SPAM Jam: Where Aloha spirit meats Minnesota nice

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Who knew? Minnesota's SPAM is huge in Hawaii.

Sure, the tinned meat has been produced from Midwestern hogs at Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minnesota, home of the  SPAM Museum, for more than 75 years.

But Hawaiians eat the most SPAM per capita, and thousands of island natives celebrated their appetite for the product at the growing Waikiki SPAM Jam this past weekend.

The 12th annual SPAM Jam attracted more than 28,000 and was widely covered, from the local FOX affiliate in Honolulu KHON to the Huffington Post.

Aaron Landry, a writer for the Minnesota-based Heavy Table food blog, was on the scene and posted a full report, complete with photos of SPAM delicacies that look downright tempting.

The day included music, celebrities and all the elements that create a street fair atmosphere, but Landry's report made it clear that that the meat was the treat. There were enough SPAM savory dishes for a Monty Python bit: SPAM burgers, SPAM spring rolls, SPAM and corn chowder, SPAM pita pockets, SPAM street tacos, Sicilian SPAM pizza, SPAM SPAM pad Thai.

Even more curious were the SPAM desserts, including Puerto Rican SPAM flan, which adds bits of SPAM as a texture contrast to the traditional custard, a SPAM and macadamia nut sundae and even peanut butter ice cream with candied SPAM.

(A book called SPAM: A Biography explains the Hawaii-Hormel connection, noting that the canned meat first arrived in the World War II era as military rations, but stayed because it's a cheap meat source in a place with a high cost of living. Plus, it goes well with rice and pineapple, staples in the Hawaiian diet.)

In a case of bringing the coals to Newcastle, Landry caught up with Hormel marketing manager Nicole Behne, who came all the way from Austin to visit the Waikiki SPAM Jam.

“We’re so grateful everyone wants to share their love of SPAM,” she said. “We’ve found that ‘Aloha Spirit’ and ‘Minnesota Nice’ have a lot in common.”

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