I grew up on a Filipino version of Pumpkin Spice Spam
People love to hate on pumpkin spice — probably as much as they love to hate on Spam. As it turns out, the two reviled food products have now joined in an unholy union. Pumpkin Spice Spam is now a thing, and it’ll be available for purchase from Spam.com and Walmart.com on September 23. As a longtime Spam stan, I am here for it.
Most people aren't exactly with me on this. “What is this travesty?” implored one Twitter user. Another tweeted that she would “THROW UP ON SITE” (caps hers, not mine) if someone gave her Pumpkin Spice Spam. “Hard pass. Hard. Pass,” read one particularly emphatic tweet. Meanwhile, the New York Post reported that the concoction spells death for pumpkin spice, and Elite Daily declared that “fall has gone way too far.”
Pumpkin Spice Spam actually began as a joke, according to Delish. In October 2017, Spam posted a photo of one of its tins, labeled “Pumpkin Spice” and bearing pumpkin imagery, on Facebook. “Just in time for fall — SPAM® Pumpkin Spice!” the caption read. “Ok, it might not be real, but you can still put it on your holiday wish list! Would you?”
But here we are, aren't we?
The Daily Meal recently snagged an advanced sample, which they sliced and fried on a stovetop. Although writer Dan Myers described the aroma of pumpkin spice intermingled with processed meat as “a bit off-putting,” he and his colleagues concluded that the taste "really wasn't bad." “It certainly had that soft texture that anyone who’s had Spam will be familiar with, as well as the expected salty, porky Spam flavor,” he reported. “Cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg shared center stage with the rich and savory Spam flavor, however, along with a hint of sweetness.”
I have a hunch that Pumpkin Spice Spam could taste pretty damn delicious — or at least more delicious than Twitter haters predict —based on the special way I grew up eating Spam.
Manufactured by Hormel Foods Corporation, SPAM Classic, the variety most familiar to consumers, contains pork with ham, salt, sodium nitrite, sugar, potato starch, and water, per Spam’s website. Since my mom is Filipina, she pretty much always kept our kitchen stocked with it. In a pinch, she could fry it up for us to eat alongside eggs, and steamed or fried white rice.
Unlike many Americans, who find Spam revolting, Filipinos adore the canned meat, and in fact, it’s emerged as somewhat of a cultural symbol among us. Our love for Spam stretches back to World War II, when American GIs stationed in Asia and the Pacific relied on it as a staple source of meat, NextShark reports. The U.S. military also introduced the canned meat to Hawaii and Korea, where it remains a beloved dish.
My mom was fancy with her Spam, though. She sliced it into thin slivers, then dipped each side in a teaspoon or so of sugar (preferably brown) before slow-frying them on medium heat. The result: a salty, lightly caramelized delicacy, crispy on the edges, soft in the middle.
She began sugaring Spam shortly after she arrived in the US, inspired by the barbecue and hamonado (pork marinated and cooked with pineapple) that she grew up eating, which are both rubbed with brown sugar rub. I think Pumpkin Spice Spam will thrive on the same salty-sweet power combo that carries these and numerous other Filipino meat dishes, as well as American favorites, like chicken and waffles, and the initially head scratch-inducing, but now adored, maple bacon donuts.
Even my mom is optimistic about Pumpkin Spice Spam. She, too, likens the concept to sweetening Spam with sugar. While she can’t say for sure until she tries it, “it could taste good,” she tells me. In fact, she may even try making her own version with the pumpkin spice seasoning she uses to make pie for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin Spice Spam may be the best or worst thing to happen, but for now, I’m holding out hope.