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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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!