Spam sales sizzle with the help of social media

(ABC 6 News) —  Spam, the square canned meat, with the iconic blue and yellow label, has been feeding families for more than 85 years.  Hormel Foods says with the help of social media, it’s become even more popular.

Austin’s canned ham was made by Hormel Foods at the end of the depression in 1937 as an affordable and convenient meat option. The product, made up of only six ingredients, is now in more than 47 countries.  

“What really helped to explode the use of Spam all around the world, was sending it to our GI’s that were part of World War II, sending it to the Asia pacific region specifically,” said Spam Marketing Director Brian Lillis.  “There it became part of the cultures of those nations and those communities.”

Nations like Guam, South Korea and the Philippines are some of the biggest consumers today.   In the U.S. — the title goes to Hawaii.

“They consume about seven million cans of spam every year, that is a lot of Spam for a tiny island nation,” said Savile Lord.

So, what is so special about this canned pork?

“It’s the sizzle,” said Lillis. “People have become familiar to the sound and the smell of Spam. The brand has done a marvelous job at connecting with so many different consumers from all around the world.

“It is a history of a food that have brought people from economic distress to times of great joy,” adds Lord.

So much joy, Spam even has its own museum.   

As soon as you walk through the doors, you are greeted with a bite of the salty ham and a friendly face.
People of all ages visit the museum on Main Street in Austin, Minnesota.  The city is also the home to its maker, Hormel Foods.

“Having Spam in our community totally puts not only Austin, Minnesota, but the story of Spam globally,” said Lord.  And those Spam stories are shared with Lord every day.  She is the manager of the Spam museum and helps to oversee community engagement.

“They would tell me, they ate Spam every Sunday night with their family or they received Spam in their Christmas stocking, or they had a dish that their mother would bring to a special event, so they would have these stories and unlike a lot of foods in America, people don’t really relate to food on that level,” she said.

And it seems Spam has reached another level, breaking record sales for the past seven years.

“We have sold more Spam than the prior year and we continue to be on track for an eighth consecutive year for sales growth,” said Lillis with Hormel Foods.

Hormel Foods says with the help of social media, it’s become even more trendy. There are more than ten varieties of Spam and thousands of recipes on how to cook the canned meat.

“What makes it so unique, is its versatility, and that people can use it in so many unique dishes,” said Lillis.  His favorite way to eat Spam is thinly sliced and fried on a bagel sandwich for breakfast.

Hormel credits the power of the internet for Spam’s continued success.   Lord says thousands of recipes are shared by restaurants and influencers on YouTube and TikTok.

“People love the challenge and then they take Spam and figure out all these different ways they can have it and social media was a big part of that because then people can share it and say this is easy,’ I can do this,'” said Lord.

Lord says one couple even traveled from London to get married inside the museum.  The wedding reception had all dishes made from Spam.

“What’s your favorite way to eat Spam?” Lee asked.   “My favorite of all time is still the Spam butterscotch cookies,” chuckled Lord.

George Hormel and his son Jay probably would have never predicted cookies from Spam when they created this meat in a tin 85 years ago.  But they probably would have never predicted its success either.

“Would they have predicted 85 years and selling more in the last seven years than ever before, probably not,” said Lillis.

They got it anyway.