SPAM-costumed greeters mill about the crowds. (©Simplicio Paragas)
Sampling the offerings during last year’s SPAM Jam reception, Lisa Dziadulewicz (pronounced jad-uh-LUV-itch) was impressed—and pleasantly surprised—with the creativity of island chefs’ use of the cobbled mixture of pork shoulder, ham, sugar and salt. As the grand-prize winner of last year’s 25th annual Great American SPAM Championship, the Wisconsin native earned an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaiʻi to attend the popular Waikīkī event.
“This is amazing,” said Dziadulewicz, while offering a sample of her winning Gemutlichkeit SPAMwich, a recipe, which features sautéed panko-crusted slices of SPAM with bacon stacked atop a pretzel bun and garnished with a classic warm red cabbage slaw. “It’s great to be the SPAM Queen of Waikīkī for the day.”
Now in its 15th year, SPAM Jam Waikīkī has become a destination event with many visitors planning their vacations around this annual streetfest. From a San Diego women who proudly showed off her original SPAM Jam T-shirt to an appearance by Hello Kitty, more than 26,000 people paced Kalākaua Avenue last year in search of SPAM-based dishes amid live entertainment and craft booths.
Only in Hawai‘i would we celebrate a processed meat that comes in that all-too-familiar blue tin can. Wrapped in nori, stir-fried with noodles, plated with eggs, SPAM knows no culinary boundaries when it comes to the local palate. Ever since GIs were first served the Hormel product in World War II, SPAM has become an iconic food among Hawaiʻi residents, who consume more than six million cans of SPAM a year, the nation’s highest per capita consumption of the luncheon meat. It even gets a spot on the SPAM website’s Q&A section, asking Why are SPAM® products so popular in Hawai‘i?
“We’re all here to celebrate one thing—SPAM,” said Outrigger Enterprises Group’s vice president of corporate relations and SPAM Jam co-founder Bitsy Kelley, addressing the social-media crowd before the SPAM Jam 2014 VIP Tweetup. “Let’s keep the buzz going all night long.”
Attendees are encouraged to bring a can of SPAM or other canned goods to support the Hawai‘i Foodbank, which is the main beneficiary of the event, along with the Waikīkī Community Center and the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai‘i. For a complete list of restaurants and entertainment, visit spamjamhawaii.com.