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Hawaiians Love Spam Musubi (Including Former Resident Barack Obama!)

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The portable snack has a special place in the hearts of current and former residents of Hawaii.

Based on the Japanese onigiri, Spam musubi (rice, nori and pan‑fried Spam simmered in sweet soy sauce) was reportedly created by Honolulu resident Mitsuko Kaneshiro, who made it for her children before selling it in a local drugstore in the 1980s.

September 24, 2021
can of spam

Yes we Spam

The portable snack has a special place in the hearts of both current and former residents of the archipelago. In 2008, Hawaii‑born Barack Obama was spotted snacking on Spam musubi during a trip to the islands. 

Inside the Spam can

Spam was created by Hormel Foods in 1937 and became popular in Hawaii during World War II, when U.S. soldiers travelled with the long‑lasting (2‑5 years if unopened) canned pork shoulder in their rucksacks.

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Trans‑Pacific snack

Although Hawaii consumes the most Spam in the U.S., a recent Yelp survey of the most popular delivery by state revealed that Spam musubi was the top order in Nevada during the pandemic.

Spam musubi deconstructed

The meat is stacked on the rice like sushi, then wrapped with nori. A mould (or the Spam can) is often used to assemble the layers.

Spamjam

Every April, a block party on Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue celebrates the meat treat. Spam fans can mingle with Musu the mascot and eat everything from Spam gyoza and nachos to candied Spam.

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