When spam was first introduced to Asia-Pacific during World War II, it was a welcome substitute to meat that was increasingly becoming unaffordable or simply unavailable in the conflict-wracked region.
The canned product also carried a certain panache, thanks to its connections to the US, similar to how silk stockings and good chocolate were associated with American GIs in the European theater.
Filipina writer Sherina Ong shared, “the very fact that it was an American product ironically elevated spam to a foreign delicacy in the Philippines, gratifying happy consumers spanning the working class to the wealthy.”
Writing about spam’s role in Hawaiian cuisine, author Rachel Laudan said spam has “a certain status, harking back to the time when buying something canned conveyed affluence and keeping up with the times.”
Without any prejudice to turn people off spam, Hawaiians and others were able to keep enjoying it guilt-free.