Monday, November 17, 2008

Like meat with a pause button

With the economy sliding further and further into the crapper, it’s reassuring to know that some inexpensive comestibles and foodage remain stable, price-wise:

Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce.


Spam, a gelatinous 12-ounce rectangle of spiced ham and pork, may be among the world’s most maligned foods, dismissed as inedible by food elites and skewered by comedians who have offered smart-alecky theories on its name (one G-rated example: Something Posing As Meat).

But these days, consumers are rediscovering relatively cheap foods, Spam among them. A 12-ounce can of Spam, marketed as “Crazy Tasty,” costs about $2.40. “People are realizing it’s not that bad a product,” said Dan Johnson, 55, who operates a 70-foot-high Spam oven.


Spam “seems to do well when hard times hit,” said Dan Bartel, business agent for the union local. “We’ll probably see Spam lines instead of soup lines.”

Even as consumers are cutting back on all sorts of goods, Spam is among a select group of thrifty grocery items that are selling steadily.

Pancake mixes and instant potatoes are booming. So are vitamins, fruit and vegetable preservatives and beer, according to data from October compiled by Information Resources, a market research firm.

Speaking of beer, my mother was happy as a lark when she discovered that Georgia is now carrying Yuengling beer, the Pottsville, Pennsylvania brew many believe will be the next American beer champ. (She located it in her liquor store of choice.) I e-mailed Jim Leeds about this when she told me the news…and he was apologetic, apparently having known this earlier and neglecting to tell me about it. No harm done, Jim—trust me, Mom would have discovered this eventually


Flickhead said...

Yuengling? IN THIS ECONOMY?!?!?

Rupert Knickerbocker, dude! No better way to wash that Spam down!

HouseT said...

A consumable meat product with a consistent cost point? Brilliant!

In the world of the apocalypse, the new economy will be run on sweet, glorious SPAM. Cans will be worn on chains and become the official bling of the new world.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

As always, Mr. Head, I must defer to your superior insight on all things barley and hops.

But I wasn't trying to suggest that people rush right out and load up their shopping carts with Yuengling. I mentioned the PA-based brew only as a follow-up to a previous post where I mused at to how long it would be before Yuengling would be available in Georgia, thus eliminating the need for us to go sneaking 'cross the South Carolina border like scofflaws.

Bill Crider said...

I ate many meals of Spam when I was growing up. Fried Spam. Spam sandwiches. I hope in my dotage to avoid it.

Linda said...

Husband still loves Spam and eats many omelets with it. He spent part of his childhood in Hawaii (dad in Air Force) and tells me Spam is very popular there.

Anonymous said...

Linda beat me to it!

When my bride and I visited Hawaii a few years ago we were surprised to learn that Spam is almost considered a delicacy in the islands.

Jim (who still can't remember his ID)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Most of the people adopt Bill's position when the subject of Spam comes up--ate it as a kid, and don't wish to go near it ever again. I'm wondering if there's a threshold involved...I've eaten a good bit of Spam in my day, and to be honest I kind of like it. We limited it to a breakfast meat at my house (served with fried or scrambled eggs, pancake, toast, French toast) so maybe that's why I'm not yet burned out on it.

Chris Riesbeck said...

I was just listening yesterday to a Burns and Allen radio show, sponsored by Spam. The opening commercial is something like "Your husband calls and says he's bringing friends home for dinner. Worried? Don't be -- just serve Spam!"

Yes, that will go over big.

Pam said...

I've never had Spam. I must try it at least once to know what everyone is talking about.