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  • Let's face itSpam is weird stuff.

  • It might look like a block of mystery meat and taste suspiciously delicious, but it turns

  • out there's a lot that goes into each and every can of Spam.

  • Here's how Spam is really made.

  • Spam is a weird thing, a tin of long-lasting, weirdly-textured, inexplicably good... meat

  • product.

  • Things like Spam don't just happen.

  • Someone had to intentionally do this.

  • The question is: why?

  • And how?

  • Spam has its origins in the late 20's, when Jay Hormel took over his father's meat company.

  • Hormel was always looking for the next big thing, so when he saw a deli selling canned

  • meat carved into slices, he latched onto the idea.

  • The meat was originally formed into six-pound molds, and customers who wanted some had it

  • sliced at the deli.

  • Hormel figured he could cut out the middleman and sell miniature canned meats directly to

  • people who could then slice it themselves.

  • The idea for Spam was born, though it would take a few years to be perfected, finally

  • debuting in 1937.

  • Hormel decided early on that Spam would primarily consist of pork shoulder, a part of the pig

  • that at the time was rarely used as it was difficult to process.

  • Spam starts looking less like pigs and more like Spam when the meat is sliced from the

  • bone — a process done by handand ground into 8,000-pound batches.

  • These days, given the worldwide popularity of Spam, the company needs a lot of piggy

  • shoulders to meet demand, which is why their partners at Quality Pork Processors, Inc.

  • slaughter over 20,000 pigs every single day.

  • Most domestic Spam is processed in Nebraska, but Hormel also has overseas plants in South

  • Korea, the Philippines, and Denmark.

  • Spam has an image of being mostly a weird sort of mystery meat, but there's only six

  • ingredients: pork (with ham), salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite.

  • That's it!

  • Still, you might be wondering why some of those ingredients are in your meat to begin

  • with.

  • The sodium nitrate is there to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning

  • if it's ingested, since no one wants their Spam with a side of botulism.

  • It's also what gives Spam that distinctive pink color, thanks to a chemical reaction

  • that happens between the nitrites and the protein in the meat.

  • And the potato starch helps to hold everything together while preventing the meat from drying

  • out too much in the can.

  • It's actually a recent addition to the recipe, as it was only added in 2009.

  • After the meat is hand carved from the bone, it's ground up in 8,000 pound batches.

  • A metal detector is used to make sure nothing has gotten into the batch in any part of the

  • process, and then it's transferred to a series of vacuum mixers that are capable of super-chilling

  • the batch to freezing.

  • The rest of the ingredients are dumped in, the mixer is sealed to be airtight, and it's

  • mixed.

  • Why the cold and the vacuum?

  • It's to help prevent a huge amount of liquid from being released when the meat is cooked.

  • Once the Spam is all perfectly mixed, it's funneled into the cans, which are vacuum sealed,

  • giving Spam its infamously long shelf life.

  • How long?

  • Hormel says if you store it properly, a can of Spam could last indefinitely.

  • Usually, though, it starts to go off about five years after its "best by" date, so if

  • you've got some old Spam in your doomsday bunker, you should probably eat it now.

  • "I have the best stocked survival shelter in northeastern Pennsylvania, but everything

  • has a shelf life, so I must eat and then replace everything that's about to expire."

  • Once the Spam is canned, then it's time to cook it.

  • Yes, it sounds backwards, but Spam is actually cooked inside the can!

  • The cans are sent to a massive hydrostatic cooker, where the cans are cooked, sterilized,

  • washed, and finally cooled.

  • How big is the machine?

  • It can actually process up to 33,000 cans every hour!

  • And they need to make that many cans, because despite being a punchline to some, Hormel

  • estimates they sell three cans every second, with over 8 billion cans sold since Spam was

  • first introduced.

  • That's way more than just a mere ton of Spamliterally, as it just takes 2,666 cans

  • of Spam to equal one ton.

  • There's no signs that interest in Spam is going away anytime soon, either, as it shows

  • up in an estimated one in three American households.

  • But that doesn't hold a candle to some of the biggest Spam consumers in the world.

  • Spam is especially popular in Hawai'i and Guam, where the canned meat became a beloved

  • dietary staple when Allied troops introduced it to locals during World War II.

  • Hawai'i and Guam both vie for the crown of the most Spam-happy place on Earth, but at

  • last calculation, the crown was officially held by Guam, where the average citizen consumes

  • 16 cans of Spam per year.

  • You can even get it at McDonald's.

  • Everyone's familiar with those distinctive blue and yellow cans, right?

  • Absolutely, and that's what makes it so surprising that there's an extra step that goes into

  • the making of Spam in South Korea: it's often packaged up as part of a gift set.

  • The New York Times looked at South Korea's favorite gifts for the Lunar New Year.

  • It was a list that included things like rare tea, imported wines, fine cuts of beef...

  • and Spam.

  • American soldiers also brought Spam with them to South Korea during the Korean War in the

  • 1950's, which is why Spam is today considered a luxurious delicacy.

  • In fact, it's often given as a sign of respect to important people during the Christmas season.

  • As one saleswoman told The New York Times,

  • "Here, Spam is a classy gift you can give to people you care about during the holiday."

  • Amen.

  • "Oh yeah."

  • "Oof."

  • "That's the sound of quality!"

  • Check out one of our newest videos right here!

  • Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite meat products are coming soon.

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Let's face itSpam is weird stuff.

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This Is How Spam Is Really Made

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    Sophie posted on 2019/12/25
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