The Journey of Spam

Today marks the 75th birthday for that notorious mystery meat. On this day in 1937 Hormel first introduced Spam into the world  (no, not that crap that flows into your inbox). I’m talking about canned gelatinous spiced ham (or ‘Spam’). Bash on it all you like, not many products last 75 years. Hormel must be doing something right.

{You may notice these points sound a bit like a pro blogger anthem. Some things have always worked.}

A small tribe is plenty (if they are loud enough).

During the recovery after WWII, 60 ex-GI women formed a group called the Hormel Girls who traveled the country promoting the inexpensive tinned meat. These women became synonymous with food and being patriotic.

Imagine what ravenous 60 fans could do today with the internet and smart phones. You don’t need many; they just need to be passionate.

Ignoring demands is ignoring possible profit.

Spam is huge in Hawaii. It is the only place where McDonald’s serves spam. They started serving it up in 2002, but it took Burger King until 2007. Of all fast-food places I would think BK would jump on the high-sodium, bad-for-you meat. Why so long?

Imagine the business lost by waiting so long to fill that demand.

Keep an eye on the neighbors.

Spam was sent to the soldiers on the fronts in the Pacific. As far as I can tell, they ate a lot of it. The surplus spilled into the local peoples’ diet. From that excess grew the largest market for Spam today.

Take care of your tribe (and keep an eye on who they are taking care of). And creating abundance to there is always enough to share. :-)

Joint ventures can be a win-win.

The demand for Spam grew in England after the war. It had become an affordable part of the diet. I understand they make something called spam fritters which involve battering and deep frying spam. Oh ya. I’ll let you simmer on that for just a second. :-)

After the war, Hormel formed a joint venture of sorts with Newforge Foods to produce Spam in the UK. The plant cranked out Spam until 1998. That’s a 50 year friendship.

Make friends.

Be ready to fill a need.

China’s demand for meat is growing. Spam has been common in the Pacific for sixty years now. Another perfect partnership. And now Hormel China is the most profitable division of the company.

Be open to ventures in unusual places.

People will talk smack. Laugh all the way to the bank.

Spam is associated with frugality at best and poverty at worst. As far as I can tell, Spam’s target market was people with little money trying to survive a war. The name has such power that I am going to have to lie to my kids to get them to try it. The hubster has never had it, cringed at the suggestion, and then planned to set up cameras to capture the kids’ first bite.

It inspired the hugely successful Broadway musical, Spamalot. Spam is the focus of a hilarious Monty Python sketch, from which junk in your inbox took its name. Look at your email client. Is the word ‘Spam’ on one of the folders? It oozed its way into our vernacular. That’s power!

Not bad for a 75 year old can of mystery meat.

Your turn, are you squirreling away a project that could grow to much more?

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