March 24, 2009

"Contemporary Collectibles: In Defense of SPAM"

Well, defending SPAM collectibles. Not the email kind of spam!

"Contemporary Collectibles" columnist, Linda Rosenkrantz, wrote all about collecting SPAM-branded items in Oregon's Bend Weekly newspaper:

"Has any food product in history ever been as maligned, mocked and slandered as the humble can of SPAM, to the point where its name was chosen to be used for the most lethal enemy of every e-mail subscriber? And yet it has survived for over seven decades, even accruing its own cadre of collectors.


"When American soldiers were deployed to Europe and the Pacific, SPAM was a key ingredient of their K rations. It was far from popular with most GIs, who made jokes and wrote songs about how much they disliked it. Despite that, many of them returned with a taste for it, and sales rose after the war.

"SPAM even has a mascot: Spammy, a miniature pig, which was a feature of the Hormel-sponsored George Burns & Gracie Allen radio show. Still enormously popular today after more than 60 years, it has found a special place in Hawaii, where the population consumes an average of four cans per year, and in Korea, where it's sold in elegant presentation gift boxes.


"When it comes to SPAM collectibles, vintage print ads predominate, primarily from women's magazines, some tied in with Bisquick, Kellogg's, Aunt Jemima, Betty Crocker, etc., and also recipe pamphlets put out by Hormel. In addition, there are extremely rare World War II rations, souvenirs from the SPAM Museum in Austin [Minnesota, that is], metal signs, SPAM car-shaped hinged boxes and coin banks, playing cards, and a Hormel SPAM truck made in England."

[Found that magazine ad for SPAM listed on my favorite vintage advertising site, AdClassix. It's described as: "1945 Hormel Spam & Beans original vintage advertisement. 'Cold or hot... Spam hits the spot!'" It sold for $17.70. Find a fun 1960 SPAM ad here; it's still for sale, at $25.00.]

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