Day 12 - Spam Can Illustration - Doodlewash

I Used To Love Canned Meat

One of my favorite things as a child was Spam, and sometimes fried Spam sandwiches. For those unaware, it’s meat in a can that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. And I thought it more than qualified for our prompt of “weird stuff” today. Kids like all kinds of weird things, but this was actually a treat for the whole family. It gained popularity after being used to feed troops in World War II. Though specifically labeled as “chopped pork and ham” it was reconstituted into the shape of a bar of soap and looked like neither of those ingredients. It was just weird. But as a kid, I thought it was delicious. And even though Spam was a brand name, it became so popular that it was used to refer to any sort of meat in a can. Monty Python had a comedy sketch in the early 70’s that had people trying to order food in a diner, but unable to order anything without Spam in it. As the woman practically screams “I don’t like Spam!”, the inexplicable Vikings surrounding her chant, “Spam, Spam, Spam!” When the ability to put an entire file into early chat systems became available, some would use this annoying chant to irritate others, leading us to refer to unwanted emails as “spam” today. Which in itself, is a story that also qualifies, as weird stuff!

But the actual odd food in a can, which is still available today, of course, was a childhood favorite of mine. I think I enjoyed it more because it was so weird. In my family, we happily referred to our meal as “mystery meat sandwiches.” And though I’ve not had any Spam since the 80’s, I remember loving it. I was so excited when it was announced that we were having Spamwiches for dinner as that’s what they were called in the commercials. The flavor I remember being quite unique and unlike anything else, along with the strange texture. It was exotic and odd in a way that made me happy. But, like many foods from when I was young, it’s been so long now that I can’t quite remember exactly how it tasted. I tried to talk Philippe into buying some recently at the grocery and he look at me at first simply perplexed. Then he stared at the can some more, analyzing it and return a look that moved more toward aghast with a touch of questioning that said, “what was it that we had in common again?”

Perhaps, it’s best I let some memories live in my past, but I’ve not given up on this one. I’ll try it again one day, as I’m just too darn curious as to whether or not I’d still like it. I guess had I been thinking clearly, I would have added to my birthday wishlist. It’s tomorrow and Philippe usually tries to get me the things on it. It would have been a blast to see if he’d skip that one or give in to my childish whims. But, yeah living with me, the guy already puts up with quite a lot, so it’s probably for the best I didn’t. And while so much of my childhood was filled with foods with suspicious nutritional value, it doesn’t stop me from remembering them fondly. Spam was just one of many things I no longer have in my life these days. At least, not the real thing. Though no matter how old I get as I turn a year old tomorrow, I’m clinging onto these youthful memories with all my heart. It’s fun to think back to these moments and remember that no matter how sophisticated I might think my palette has become today, I used to love canned meat.

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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Opus (Vivid Pink), Leaf Green, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Blue, Terra Cotta and Indigo.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Day 12 - Spam Can Illustration - Doodlewash


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40 thoughts on “I Used To Love Canned Meat

      1. Happy belated birthday Charlie. Today was my daughter’s birthday and she asked for musubi and ufo’s today. So i made Musubi which is spam, rice wrapped in seaweed and ufo’s which are gotenburg sausage rice and furikaki. My kids just love not so much…they grew up on it on Kauai

  1. LOL!! We had spam sandwiches too. I was not a big fan though I would eat them if the spam was fried to a crisp. My best friend got a job in the Minnesota town where they make spam. The library had a whole collection of spam Hormel history. They donated a lot of money to charitable causes there.

    I wrote a newspaper article once about the weird things my staff and I used to like. Mine was those orange circus peanut candies. Now the idea of them makes my teeth hurt. I used to like Twinkies too. Now they taste awful to me!

    Hope your birthday was great! Is this the big 5 0?

  2. I never cared for Spam, but I loved Underwood Deviled Ham. It can’t be all bad, either, since it’s been around since 1868 and was carried by Union Soldiers. Another fine culinary example of American Cuisine!

  3. sorry bout that, but couldn’t get it to post here.
    so I guess this is a one step ‘treasure’ hunt.
    the arrow points to pitching pennies

    My sides are hurting when I think of Philippe’s look of abject horror
    when I share my favorite way to eat spam back in the day….coat it
    with dry mustard, then roll it in blackstrap molasses and bake it
    (much healthier baked ha ha) but it is very tasty. Of course if you’re
    in a hurry, you can really forgo the baking and just fry it….gotta turn
    it way often or the molasses will burn.

  4. Money was tight at certain times in my childhood. To make ends meet, Spam would be on the dinner menu. I remember seeing it come out of the can – little pieces of gunk held together by a gelatinous liquid. My mom would dress it up like a little ham, with a pineapple ring on top. I hated it! Times got better and Spam disappeared from my life until I visited Hawaii for the first time. It’s quite popular there, especially among native Hawaiians. I can imagine Philippe’s reaction to such a product!

  5. Happy Birthday Charlie! Hope your day is extra special! Thanks again for the memories. My mother used to make us fried spam sandwiches. And I have been known to make that same sandwich for the hubby. Love the painting!

  6. Spam is definitely the jokester of the food world – but then of course, there’s also Vienna sausages which have nothing to do with Vienna. Marmite is another one, something I wouldn’t know about except for my British blog friends, and I’ve never tried it. There’s also Underwood deviled ham, something I tried once as it was piled into hard boiled egg centers. Notice I said once. If you’re truly hungry, you’ll eat. LOL

  7. Are there as many things that Philippe doesn’t eat/have/do anymore as a favour to you? It seems to be a central theme in your writing that you want something and he won’t let you, or disapproves so much that you choose not to. I personally don’t see the attraction of spam but I also don’t see the good in preventing people doing what they’d like to do (within reason), especially if it’s one-sided..

    1. Actually, it’s just a difference in upbringing with Philippe and I. He was born and raised in Paris, France and ate what the adults ate. hehe 😉 So some American cuisine can be a bit of a culture shock! lol It’s funny to see his reaction to things I enjoyed as a Midwestern American kid. Like Spam! hehe

  8. My mother bought it we called it corned beef it tasted really good,but i would never buy it now i prefer to choose healthy choises love the way you draw that can for the prompt

  9. Happy Birthday Charlie!!! The little advertising jingle “SPAM sandwiches are good for you!” is now playing on an endless loop in my head. Awesome rendition of the actual product!

  10. Happy Birthday fellow April birthday friend! I hope you have a wonderful day fit for a king! Ahhh Spam. I think it was the meat to help stretch family money. Yes we had it. I don’t see how a can would feed a family of 5, but that’s what it did. I only remember having it with canned hash( that I don’t like to this day!). Mom would dress it with a brown sugar and mustard concoction, just like ham. I actually like it. Gasp! I haven’t had it in years however. I believe it is a staple in Hawaii. Again, Happy Birthday!

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 And a very happy April birthday month to you my friend! Yeah, I adored Spam… hehe… didn’t occur to me at the time, but yep, it was there to stretch that meager grocery budget. I thought it was delicious and request it! lol

          1. Oh yeah! We’ve boughten a few more pieces of furniture. It’s my hubby’s midlife crisis solution. He already owns collector cars, so I am benefitting from this. We are on piece number 12. All antigues. Lol

  11. Happy happy birthday, Charlie! You probably are better off just remembering Spam through a doodlewash. In the 80s I was a volunteer teacher in Micronesia where Spam was on every restaurant menu and served as part of school lunches. Eggs, rice, and Spam – maybe Philippe will want to try that. hahahahahaha

    1. Haha! Thanks, Jodi! 😃💕 Yeah, I struggled with choosing the colors for Spam… a testament to having no clue as to what’s actually in it! But darn it was good back then! And thanks!! It’s been a great birthday so far and I’m just about to head into my little birthday evening with cake! Yay!

  12. Love your Spam story! As soon as I started reading, I knew it would be funny and also that it would include something about Philippe’s reaction! LOL! Happy Birthday!

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