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It’s time again for the annual Waikiki Spam Jam, the world famous (and uniquely Hawaii) Kalakaua Avenue street festival that celebrates the curious cured meat and raises funds and collects donations in support of the Hawaii Foodbank in the very heart of Waikiki on Saturday, May 2.
Hawaii consumes more cans of Spam per capita than any other U.S. state, and by quite a large margin. The Spam musubi (Spam and rice, wrapped in seaweed) is a food icon here, a go-to protein and starch bomb for those on the go. You can buy one pretty much anywhere you buy gas, snacks, and other conveniences. An ever-growing event, 25-30 thousand visitors and residents are expected to attend the Waikiki Spam Jam this year. Hundreds of workers and volunteers comprise a small army of participants.
Each year, chefs from popular Oahu restaurants like Chai’s Waikiki, Atlantis Seafood &Steak, Duke’s Waikiki, Hard Rock Café, and Hula Grill create new and inventive, Spam-themed dishes for the event. A total of 17 restaurants are participating in this year’s Waikiki Spam Jam. Featured dishes will include teriyaki Spam burgers, Portuguese sausage and Spam waffles, Spam and cheese sliders, and a MacSpam Brittle ice cream pop from local creamery OnoPops.
Even if you’re squeamish about the processed meat staple that is Spam, there is plenty more to enjoy at the Waikiki Spam Jam. Dozens of food tents, along with local arts and crafts, face painting and the like line the festival grounds along Kalakaua Avenue, and two musical stages will feature a variety of musical acts and hula halau. This year’s Outrigger stage (fronting the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel) will feature legendary Hawaiian singers Brother Noland and Del Beazley and Robi Kahakalau. The Royal Hawaiian Shops of Hawaii Stage will welcome the young rock outfit EMKE, as well as the Ukulele Superkids. Musical and hula performances begin at 4:30pm and continue until 9:00pm.
Every year, news media from around the world land in Waikiki to cover the Waikiki Spam Jam. The annual “spam jam” that’s held in Minnesota, where Hormel makes Spam, doesn’t generate a fraction of the interest that the Waikiki Spam Jam does. It’s a beloved annual celebration that does more than take pride in a local food favorite. It makes a significant and essential contribution to the Hawaii Foodbank, a vital service that provides much needed food to Hawaii’s most impoverished families. Attendees are encouraged to bring a can of Spam as a donation for the Hawaii Foodbank.
There are countless things that make Hawaii such a unique place in all the world, and the Waikiki Spam Jam is certainly among them.