Craig Santos Perez

Issue #
February 18, 2013

SPAM's Carbon Footprint [Super Bowl Edition]

I eat therefore I SPAM. It was estimated that islanders on Guam consumed eight pounds of

SPAM per person per year—try to top that Hawai’i! The Spaniards may have brought pigs to

Guam, but the Americans brought us SPAM (invented on July 5, 1937). It’s actually much

easier to cook SPAM kelaguen than chicken kelaguen. SPAM was the most loved food at

my childhood home. It was what my mom fed to my brothers, my sisters, and our dogs for

breakfast lunch and dinner. They say you aren’t an “authentic” Chamoru unless you enjoy

BBQ, eating SPAM, drinking Budweiser, making babies, chewing Pugua, not working, and

beating people up (especially haoles). On Guam and in other former and current colonies

the canned meat has saved lives, but may now be endangering more. Among Chamorus, a

staggering 60 percent are either diabetic or pre-diabetic. Even military recruiters are worried

that young Chamorros are getting too fat and unhealthy to enlist. SPAM becomes counter

recruitment cuisine. The above SPAM recipe has been passed down from generation to

generation in my family. But then the internet happened, and SPAM began clogging our

online arteries and lost the luster of its sing-song repetition. How can I prove that I’m an

indigenous person and not a SPAM script? At this year’s Hormel SPAM Cook-Off in Guam,

the Polish inspired “Pika Pieirogi” ousted the “Crispy Wanton Spam Ravioli” for first place.

What would Jesus eat? Either way you cook it, SPAM is one of the few canned meats that

contains the same “stuff” that it did during my grandparents’ days. But now you can buy

turkey SPAM, smoke-flavored SPAM, hot and spicy SPAM, garlic SPAM, SPAM lite and

many other versions, which reflects our more complicated, post-modern, and stressful lives.

If you bring your SPAM labels to the Sorensen Media Group Offices in Hagatna, you can

redeem 12 labels for a SPAM shirt and 9 for a SPAM hat! Because Guam is located across

the international dateline, the Super Bowl occurs on Monday morning, causing truancy at

public schools. Thus, the Guam Department of Education has decided to close school on

that special day. Students can now enjoy the traditional local breakfast of fried rice and fried

SPAM as they squat in front of their television sets on Guam’s newly declared school

holiday, Super Bowl Monday! I wonder if school children on Guam discuss that scene from

Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (published in 1939), when the tractor driver stops near a

tenant house and eats his sandwich of white bread, pickle, cheese, and SPAM. The curious,

starving children surround the driver but they don’t speak to him. They don’t even watch

him chew his food. Instead, they are hypnotized by the hand that carries the SPAM towards

our mouths.

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