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15 Foods That Shouldn't Taste Like Bacon, But Do

15 Foods That Shouldn't Taste Like Bacon, But Do

Why can’t the only thing that tastes like bacon be bacon?

15 Things That Really Shouldn’t Taste Like Bacon, But Do

If one food gets more attention than any other, it has to be bacon (even to the point where many would argue that it's played out). For one reason or another, cured, smoked pork belly is one of the most beloved foods in existence, most likely because it’s also one of the most delicious foods in existence. That salty, porky, smoky flavor is instantly recognizable and just the mere mention of it is enough to get mouths watering. Food companies around the world have tried to replicate its flavor more than just about any other savory food and are adding it to even the most mundane food and drink products. We’ve tracked down 15 of the crazier ones, and some are really head-scratching.

Bacon Salt

This is the product that helped launched the fad in 2007: flavored salt crystals that "make everything taste like bacon." Our advice: skip the bacon salt and use smoked salt instead.

Bacon Mints

These apparently taste like a combination of mint and bacon, which according to the manufacturer is "a match made in heaven." We’ll be sticking with Altoids.

Bacon Jelly Beans

Jelly Bellies these aren't, but for a quick bacon fix you can do a lot worse.

Bacon Toothpaste

"It's the perfect way to keep your teeth and gums healthy while coating your mouth with the delicious flavor of smoky meat!" the website claims. We’ll take their word for it.

Maple Bacon Coffee

We’re not quite sure how they get the flavors of maple syrup and bacon into their coffee beans, but this is a major advancement in coffee technology.

Bacon Lip Balm

The hardest part of owning a stick of bacon lip balm? Not eating it.

Baconnaise

We’re not gonna lie: this has to be one of the most brilliant sandwich-toppers ever invented.

Vodka

The world of flavored vodka just keeps on getting crazier and crazier, so of course Bakon Vodka exists. This would go great with a Bloody Mary… but not much else.

Bacon Chocolate

Vosges is quite a reputable chocolate company, but it’s really outdone itself with this one. Real bacon is crumbled and incorporated into a slew of chocolate products. Chocolate-covered meat never tasted quite so good.

Liqueur

Mama Walker’s Maple Bacon Liqueur is one of those products that really has no reason for existing, but we’re glad it does because it’s absolutely ludicrous. If you can figure out a cocktail that it actually tastes good in, please let us know.

Massage Oil

You know a product is ridiculous when it starts as an April Fool’s joke. But that’s exactly what happened to J&D Foods when they teased this product: The clamor for it was so intense that the company actually went and made the stuff!

Envelopes

Licking an envelope to seal it should not be a gastronomic experience. But if they can make envelope glue taste like bacon, maybe they can also make it taste like snozzberries.

Soda

Meat-flavored soda may not sound tasty by itself, but think how well this probably mixes with bourbon!


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.


Since its rise to popularity during World War II, Spam has come a long way. We took a closer look at some of the canned meat’s offshoots, from Spam Chorizo to Spam Oven Roasted Turkey.

Spam occupies an outsize space in the American culinary consciousness as a particularly yecch food. There are a few possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s the grainy, pinkish color and rectangular shape, like something spliced together from a freakish science experiment. Maybe it’s just that World War II veterans got sick of eating can after can in the trenches and eventually passed their negative feelings down to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it’s the way the gelatin slides out from the can in a way that is genuinely gross no matter how you try to spin it. Maybe it’s because it’s meat, delivered sliced and diced on your plate, directly from a can.

Nonetheless, skeptical eaters fortunate enough to encounter a piece of properly cooked Spam will realize something shocking that millions of people around the globe already know: Spam’s really not that bad. It’s actually quite delicious, like a saltier, fattier version of ham—with the discouraging nutritional values to go along with it. But an untreated slice of Spam, daubed with mayonnaise and tucked between two slices of white bread, is a utilitarian meal of the past. Talk about yecch. To make the most of your Spam experience, you grill it or fry it in a pan, manipulating the spongy texture and browning the outsides. It can then be incorporated into dishes like fried rice, budae jjigae—a popular Korean stew—or musubi (Spam rice ball), where the strips of fried Spam add a flavorful bit of protein to some mild rice and seaweed.

Spam was invented before World War II as a way of keeping Hormel workers employed year-round and creating a shelf-stable deli meat. When the war started, it was shipped to soldiers around the world because of its ability to maintain in global temperatures. Since then, a whole slew of flavored varieties have come into existence, comprising an entirely colorful universe of processed meats. The first offshoots were Spam Hickory Smoke and Spam With Cheese, both of which hit the market in 1971. The line has expanded to include 15 flavors of Spam, ranging from the obvious (Spam Lite, which promises less fat, sodium, and calories) to the obscure (Spam Tocino, which is flavored after the popular Filipino bacon).

Some of these were developed for specific markets (in the case of Spam Teriyaki, Hawaii) others, like Spam Chorizo, were made with all consumers in mind. (There have also been limited-edition flavors, like Golden Honey Grail and Stinky French Garlic, introduced as part of a promotion for the Monty Python Spamalot musical.)

The regular Spam—formally known as Spam Classic—is still Hormel’s top-selling brand, but according to brand manager Brian Lillis, they’re always on the lookout for new flavors. “We keep a strong pulse on the culinary and foodie scenes as well as listen to our customers to ensure each new variety created is versatile, easy to use, and above all, great-tasting,” he says. Spam BBQ? Spam Sriracha? The future may be that exciting. In the name of journalism, I sampled an array of alternative Spams in order to help you out the next time you’re at the grocery store and looking to get weird.

Spam Teriyaki
I almost always grill my Spam in a light teriyaki glaze, which prepares it for usage in Asian dishes like stir-fry or musubi (for which there is a recipe on the back of the Spam Teriyaki can). The teriyaki-infused Spam was very sweet, almost glistening with excess sauce. This was the obvious standout, as it’s how you might want to prepare your Spam anyways, though perhaps with a lighter amount of teriyaki than provided.

Spam With Real Hormel Bacon
Hormel offers a wide, wide variety of foodstuffs, such as chili, peanut butter, and, uh, Muscle Milk. But its bacon in particular, with its similarities to ham, makes for a natural crossover with Spam. When sliced thinly and cooked long enough to accrue a nice char, bacon Spam makes a decent substitute for standard bacon. It’s maybe the only variety you’d want to eat on its own, next to a plate of eggs and toast. It’s not going to be any worse for you nutritionally than bacon is.

Spam Chorizo
Maybe I’ve been eating too much so-so Mexican food, but Spam Chorizo struck me as unbelievably close to the real thing, down to the strong paprika scent, the orange-ish coloring, and the peppery kick in the aftertaste. It tasted the least like standard Spam, as the chorizo seasoning was heavy enough to make me forget what I was eating. (The texture, however, was still Spammy there was none of the gaminess of chorizo.) You could drop this on another breakfast plate, or maybe even stick it in some tacos, if you were ever so bold.

Spam Hot and Spicy
Spam Hot and Spicy lives up to its name the Spam is indeed hot and definitely spicy. (It’s flavored with Tabasco’s trademarked red pepper mixture.) In fact, it tastes almost exactly like regular Spam, except for a surprisingly strong heat that kicks in when you’re chewing. I can’t see it being in any way good for my digestive system, but there’s a nice novelty to it, if you wanted to incorporate this into musubi for an added kick.

Spam Oven Roasted Turkey
This is Spam made with “100% white, lean turkey,” apparently, instead of the usual pork. It still has the same Spam texture, which means it isn’t quite the natural substitute for sandwich meat that the marketing wants you to believe. The taste was mostly bland, a damning property for a food as delightfully ostentatious as Spam, and the sponginess was fooling no one. Honestly, this was the most conceptually mixed variety—Spam is Spam, not anything else.

Spam Hickory Smoke
Ironically, this tasted much more like turkey-based Spam than the actual Oven Roasted Turkey Spam, though it’s made with mechanically separated chicken (aka the grossest bits of chicken, separated from the bone by brute force). This you could maybe get away with putting on a sandwich. It’s slightly confusing why they’d have two turkey brands, especially since one is noticeably tastier than the other, but redundancy is built into the lineup: Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium offer basically the same thing.

Spam Garlic
By far the worst flavor, smelling of stale garlic cloves and not tasting much better. Garlic in your Spam is just an awkward collision of flavors—too many contrasting, pungent sensations to give your tongue anything to enjoy in full. The first whiff from the can portended bad things to come, and the cooked thing was equally off-putting. It’s best to just let this go bad on the shelf, though because of all the preservatives, that’ll literally take years.

Spam Musubi

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 can of Spam (pick your flavor—classic recommended)
  • 1 package seaweed sheets
  • Pineapple (fresh, sliced)
  • Wasabi Fumi Furikake (or your choice)
  • Musubi mold

A spin on the classic Japanese rice ball, Spam musubi is one of the most popular snacks in Hawaii, combining sweet and savory flavors in a warm, convenient wrap. This version counters the saltiness of the teriyaki-grilled Spam with the tartness of the pineapple and the heat of the wasabi, providing a blast of flavor in every bite.