Things you didn’t know about Spam

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… is there any food product in existence that’s been mocked more than Spam?

Twinkies, possibly, but deep down, everyone secretly loves Twinkies. We can’t say the same thing for Spam. When it comes to Spam you either love it or you hate it, and it’s actually one of the more fascinating food products out there, with a long, wild history. We’ve assembled a few facts that you probably didn’t know about this legendary lunchmeat.

Spam (or officially, SPAM), was introduced by the Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937. At the time, the fact that meat could be kept fresh for years by canning it was incredibly novel. It was rationed to troops during World War II, and while the Europeans the GI’s exposed to the canned meat largely didn’t want to have anything to do with it (except for the British), those on the Pacific front fell in love with it, and it’s still extremely popular there to this day.

After the war, Hormel launched a massive publicity campaign for the canned ham, recruiting a group of former servicewomen, whom they dubbed the ‘Hormel Girls,’ to tour the country promoting the product. By 1948 the group had swelled to 60 women with a 16-piece orchestra, and they were even given a radio show which aired until the group disbanded in 1953.

Spam has kept a relatively low profile since then, living out its lengthy shelf-life in the canned foods section of supermarkets and convenience stores worldwide while keeping its cult-following strong and continuing to fend off canned-meat competitors like Treet. Gone are the days when Hormel would actively use Spam in advertising campaigns to create wonders of nature like the Spam Upside Down Pie or the Spamburger Hamburger. Today, there are 14 varieties of Spam available around the world, including Turkey Spam, Teriyaki Spam, and Spam with bacon, chorizo, or cheese. There’s also a Spam Spread, hickory smoke-flavored Spam, and Spam “Meals for 1” including Spam & Sausage Jambalaya, Spam & Penne Pasta in Alfredo Sauce, and Spam & Red Beans with Rice.

Whether you’re a Spamaholic, an occasional dabbler, or complete Spam novice, we’re sure that you’ll find these facts about the world’s most famous luncheon loaf fascinating.

So read on to learn a few things you didn’t know about Spam.

  • 1The name is still a mystery


    While most people assume SPAM is short for “spiced ham,” only a handful of people know its true origin — and they’re not telling. The name was actually suggested in naming contest by Ken Daigneau, a Hormel VP’s brother, before the product was introduced in 1937. Daigneau won a naming contest and $100. Other theories include “special processed American meat” and “shoulders of pork and ham.”

  • 2It powered the Russians during WWII

    While it’s common knowledge that Spam was popular with American GI’s, a whopping 100 million pounds of the stuff was consumed by Russian forces during the war. “Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army,” Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev later said.

  • 3There used to be a mascot

    Ever hear of Slammin’ Spammy? He was a machine gun-toting, bomb-hurling, angry-faced pig introduced by Hormel to help support the war effort, and showed up on everything from clothing to bombers.

  • 4The amount produced is insane

    Flickr/joe lively

    A whopping 44,000 cans of spam, or 33,000 pounds, are produced every hour worldwide, to be consumed in more than 40 countries. That’s a whole lot of Spam.

  • 5It’s no mystery meat


    Hormel has always been pretty straightforward about what goes into the can, even though people continue to be wary of it. It’s made with pork shoulder and ham, along with salt, water, sugar, potato starch, and nitrites. It’s basically made from the same stuff as hot dogs.

    See more crazy facts about Spam.

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The Dragonfly: A high rise farm of the future
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    Glass and steel wings create a unique bug-like shape that looms over the New York City skyline. (VINCENT CALLEBUT ARTCHITECTURES)

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    The building has grassy knolls for recreational purposes amid the areas for produce production. (VINCENT CALLEBUT ARCHITECTURES)

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    A look inside the futuristic “Dragonfly.” (VINCENT CALLEBUT ARCHITECTURES)

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    The structure looks lights up Roosevelt Island at night. (VINCENT CALLEBUT ARCHITECTURES)

Can you imagine taking an elevator ride to your local apple orchard?

Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut has designed a futuristic self-sustaining, twin-towered high- rise complex that would bring organic farming right to the heart of the New York City.

The 132-floor urban farm has been aptly named “Dragonfly” for its unique glass-and-steel wings that stretch into the sky, according to AFP.  Designed to be built on Roosevelt Island –a narrow strip of land in New York City’s East River– the complex would provide urban farming space with enough room to raise cattle and poultry and 28 different types of crops.

At the bottom of the complex, there would be a floating market on the East River for growers to sell their organic produce.

According to Callebaut, each building would be self-sufficient and act as a mini-power station. Energy is harvested from the sun and wind to heat and cool the building; in the winter, hot air is trapped between the building’s outer wing, and during the summer ventilation and transpiration from plant growth keep it cool. Plants along the exterior of the structure would also capture rainwater and then re-circulate domestic waste as fertilizer.

“The goal is to bring agriculture and nature back into the urban core so that by 2050…we have green, sustainable cities where humans live in balance with their environment,” Callebaut told AFP an interview from his studio in Paris.  He hopes to cut down on the amount of food needed to be trucked from all over world to feed the growing population of big urban centers like New York City, which puts a strain on natural resources and the environment.

While Callebaut’s idea may seem like something out of a sci-fi flick, the concept of vertical farming is gaining traction with increasing urbanization around the globe. Pasona Urban Farm,  a nine-story office building in Tokyo, lets employees to grow their own food in specially reserved green spaces.

Callebut, who recently exhibited the Dragonfly at an international fair in China, has yet to find a U.S. buyer for his concept. He’s got another idea for a “farmscraper” in Shenzhen, China that will have food gardens, housing, offices, leisure space all mixed together in one space.

China to build world’s most insane bridge
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    The Dutch firm NEXT Architects was awarded first prize in a competition to design a bridge, which will span a river within the town of Meixi Lake. (NEXT ARCHITECTS)

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    The design was based on the Mobius ring, a one-sided surface made by twisting and joining one end of a rectangle with its other fixed end, as well as knots found in ancient Chinese folk art. (NEXT ARCHITECTS)

The phrase “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” is about to have a whole new meaning in China.

The “Mobius” bridge, proposed for the Dragon King Harbor River development in Changsha, China, is about to become the craziest bridge anyone ever had to cross.

The pedestrian bridge, which would span over 490 feet long and 78 feet high, will be made of a series of interwoven, spaghetti-like pathways all constructed at a range of different heights.

The Dutch firm NEXT Architects was awarded first prize in a competition to design the bridge, which will span a river within the town of Meixi Lake. The firm based its design on the Mobius ring, a one-sided surface made by twisting and joining one end of a rectangle with its other fixed end, as well as knots found in ancient Chinese folk art.

“Now we’ve been chosen it will be a big challenge to keep the design alive the way it is,” Next co-founder Bart Reuser told Wired. “But the prospects are pretty good.”

Construction is scheduled to begin next year.