Spam is not a gourmet ingredient – but it still holds a unique position in South Korean culture. It is even considered one of the top-selling Korean products for the Chuseok harvest festival or the Korean Thanksgiving and Seollal, the Korean New Year’s Day! It is the best side dish that everyone loves.
What is SPAM?
It is a pink brick of pre-cooked pork shoulder and ham, which was first launched in 1937 by US conglomerate Hormel Foods. Now, it is considered a thrifty pantry item, especially in the west. It was introduced in the peninsula by the US army in the 1950s. This happened during the Korean war when the country faced food scarcity.
There’s even a SPAM museum in Austin, Texas, where the exhibits reflect Hormel’s story and the credibility of the product.
In South Korea, this salty and high-in fat meat product complements Korean food’s spicy and tangy elements! It is especially true for foods like kimchi as the flavors balance out correctly. It is a premium product in Korea, unlike in the west, and it is a huge deal in Korea.
SPAM themed products
Generally, you add luncheon meat in your instant noodles or as a part of buddae jiggae. But, SPAM® Korea releases luncheon meat products ranging from SPAM soap bars to toothpaste. You can even get SPAM-themed ice cream on a stick.
Ice Cream Stick by SPAM
Soap & Toothpaste
Laptop Pouch with SPAM
SPAM themed umbrella
SPAM may be an unhealthy and mysterious chunk of meat, it is also a symbol of culinary innovation in South Korea. Some may even consider it a symbol of American imperialism, SPAM is an icon of cultural histories. And if you cook it right, it just that delicious! Just don’t try to eat it raw from the can!
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