Spam, the canned mystery meat which has become a synonym for all things troubling you whilst opening your email inbox is making a revival as drug money replacement in the Hawaiian Islands.
They are being stolen by the dozens form mini-marts all over the islands as they’re an easy to grab item which can easily be sold on the streets by junkies needing quick cash.
Mr Ra Long, owner of a convenience store in downtown Honolulu, confirms the change in items being stolen from his shop. Before it was mostly alcohol bottles, but as those were being stored in locked cases, thieves have switched to spam instead
"I mean, you try to keep an eye on it, but if they run, you just can't leave the counter and chase them. So you just got to take the hit."
Spam’s popularity in the island nation is due to Hawaii’s large Asian population. As it contains mostly salty meat, it can easily be combined with rice.
Ms Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, says it has become quite troubling for shop owners, up to a point where spam is being kept underneath the counter and you have to ask a salesperson to get it for you.
“It’s organized retail crime,” Ms Yamaki says. “It’s not like ‘I’m going in to steal Spam to feed my family. I’m going in with a list of things I want to steal.’ We hear a lot of rumours where it’s going We’ve heard they work through middlemen. We’ve heard that they’re selling it from the back of their cars. We’ve heard all kinds of rumours. Whether they’re true or not, I’m not sure.”
In Hawaii, nobody eats spam plain out of the can as is happening in the US mainland states. There is ‘Spam fried rice’, ‘Spam and eggs’ whilst the Korean locals make Spam Musubi, a sushi-like snack of cooked rice, Spam with teriyaki sauce, wrapped together in seaweed.
So next time you’re in Hawaii for a well-deserved vacation, be sure to check out the local spam recipes.