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National business columnists have been pointing out that SPAM® — the canned meat (pork and ham), not the junk e-mail – is a good economic indicator. Nationwide, apparently, SPAM sales are up because the cost of fresh meat is getting out of hand along with most other staples of life.
But not in Hawaii. Know why? Sales can’t go much higher here. Hawaii’s people love SPAM; have since the nineteen forties. Today, McDonald’s and Burger King in Hawaii have SPAM on their breakfast menus. High-end chefs experiment with SPAM as they create island-style recipes. At home, we make SPAM omelets, SPAM and bean casseroles, SPAM with macaroni and Cheese and SPAM musube (rice, seaweed, sesame and other seasonings of choice).
Think about it. SPAM doesn’t have to be refrigerated until it’s opened. Unopened, its shelf life is virtually endless. It’s relatively inexpensive. When perils such as hurricanes or dock strikes loom, we islanders stock up on toilet paper, rice and SPAM, just in case we’re going to need them when supplies are cut off.
Every spring in Waikiki, the Waikiki SPAM Jam occupies the main street, which is blocked off for the food and entertainment venues. Island chefs proudly offer their latest SPAM-inspired creations, which are gobbled up.
So don’t keep your eye on Hawaii’s SPAM consumption as an economic indicator.