The Real Reason SPAM Lasts Forever

Who doesn’t love SPAM? In Hawaii, the salty, fatty meat in a can is a staple. Whether it’s pan-fried, chopped up in an omelette, or minced to enhance the flavor of sushi, SPAM is a favorite of a good many people. However, if the truth be told, it’s one of those foods you either love or hate. So, why does SPAM last forever? Dr. Chris Clarke, a food microstructure specialist, has revealed that the secret to the dish’s longevity is the fact that it’s cooked in the can, with a special chemical then added to keep it fresher longer. The pork shoulder is packed into the cans and then cooked, which prevents bacteria from forming. If you’re wondering why there’s so much sodium in SPAM, it’s because sodium nitrate is added to the SPAM after it goes into the can. That immediately begins a chemical reaction with the meat that extends its shelf life even further. Over the years, there have been many theories as to the true meaning of the name SPAM, but it’s believed that the official name for the product is “spiced ham,” which is condensed into the four letters. Often called “mystery meat,” SPAM is not as mysterious as it appears. In fact, Hormel insists that it’s made up of only 6 ingredients: pork that contains ham meat, salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrate. Those ingredients are mixed together for 20 minutes, and once the mixture has reached its correct temperature, it’s put into the cans and vacuum-packed. The product is then cooked inside the cans, before they are cooled. Love it or hate it, SPAM will likely be around for generations to come.