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15 October 2014
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Spam: Did It Save The Nation?

by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Contributed by 
Frank Mee Researcher 241911
People in story: 
The Mee Family
Location of story: 
Stockton on Tees and the whole country.
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
02 December 2004

Last week my heavily pregnant daughter walked in the house dropped Matthew my Grandson and her miriad bags then disapeared into the kitchen to see what was to eat.
I heard her say "Ooh Dad Spam" will you make me some fried Spam sandwiches. I did as asked and could not let her eat alone so joined in with Matthew three who loved it.
We talked about Spam and it took me back to the first time I ever saw it.
The First time 1942.
We were getting one tin of American dried egg per month as well as the hard egg ration. We had our own hens and the spare eggs were put down in Isenglas for later use when the hens stopped laying.
We had been introduced to shredded cabbage as apart from that green stuff boiled to death and served with whatever was on the plate of an evening. Mrs Peeks pies in tins and Mr Wooltons pie were around, goodness knows what went into those we all suspected that the poor old sausage contained far more bread then anything else.

At the time we had been sent reeling on every front and the days were dark with the threat of invasion still on every ones mind. Gerry was still keeping us awake most nights. "And then?"
Well then along came "Supply Processed American Meat" Spam for short.
Mother working at Goosepool Aerodrome where the Canadians were stationed arrived home with this tin, it was put on the table and inspected by my sister Sylvia and myself while Mum found the tin opener. The tin duly opened and we could see this pink looking substance which after much freeing with a knife slid out onto a plate.
The first thing that struck me was the smell it actually smelt like a nice ham. Mum slowly cut a slice from what I thought of as a log of meat, she cut slithers from the slice and we all slowly tasted it. I decided it was the nicest thing I had tasted for a good while and mum then sliced it all up and fried it for our evening meal with potato and vegetable it was a feast.
The Spam became a prominent part of our diet from then on and came in such variety. fried, dipped in batter and deep fried, diced and put into stews and pies or just plain cold in sandwiches with tomato and cucumber. It was even served in posh restaurants with various names such as "Ballotine De Jambon Valentinoise" how posh can you get.
From then on we seemed to suddenly change pace. The Americans were now in the war, Monty gave us a huge victory at El Alamein and we never looked back.
It sounds impossible but did Spam win the war for us in the boost it gave to morale and our taste buds. Was it good old "Supply Processed American Meat" that finally beat the Germans? I wonder?
I know it is scoffed at now and put down as rubbish by the gourmet's of today but I still love my fried spam sandwich and so did my Grandson.

A very good friend on the site pointed out that the name Spam was coined in 1937 in a competition by Hormel Foods Corporation of America to find a name for their spiced meat. They came up with SPAM that must have been one exciting competion!
I have heard many explanations of the name Spam some unprintable. Mine came from an old book on wartime rationing and the incongruous explanation stuck in my brain all these years.
At a time when labels were short and we often got shellac covered tins with the top stamped with initials it is the sort of name given to certain items for the sake of unification such as GI etc; What ever the real name Spam will always bring up the picture of wartime picnics and Sunday tea with if we were lucky Fruit and Carnation Milk. Happy Memories all.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Spam - did it save the country

Posted on: 02 December 2004 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Frank -
you are not alone in thinking that SPAM saved the world ! In the past eight weeks my wife has been in the U.K. consequently I was i/c shopping
and I spied some Spam sitting alongside a tin of Bully - from Brasil - not those awful argy bargy's - and so I too feasted with Yukon Gold spuds, Broccoli,Cauli
and tinned Peas !
Truly a feast and way ahead of the Dehydrated meat we were served in Algeria on one momentous occasion (see my posting 'Tunisia 1943')
Many's the time when we were glad to have a change from from the M & V from MacConnachies (Circa 1914)and the indestructable biscuits !


Message 2 - Spam - did it save the country

Posted on: 03 December 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Been there done that but you put a tin of spam cubed into the MacConnachies with a spoonful of mustard powder or currie powder and what a meal it made.
I am with you on the corned beef, the jungle version was best.
Happy memories Tom.
Regards Frank.

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