March 07, 2004
Spam fight!

It's headlines like this that make reading the Sunday paper special: Hawaiian Spam fans tempted by pork rival.

Not since the overthrow of Hawaii's last queen has a foreigner dared to wage a battle so fierce against an island institution.

Spam has been Hawaii's undisputed king of canned luncheon meat since the gelatinous pink pork brick was first introduced to the islands during World War II. Now a new Danish copycat called Tulip is trying to unseat Spam.

In Hawaii, Spam is much more than a four-letter word for unwanted e-mail. The product made by Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods Corp. isn't just another canned meat either. It's more of a staple food and part of island culture: Hawaii leads the nation in per capita Spam consumption.

After two years of planning and development, Tulip was introduced in Hawaii last August with an aggressive marketing campaign and an ambitious goal of gaining nearly 20 percent of Spam's enviable market share in two years.

Tulip's distributor and marketer, Advantage Webco Dodge Hawaii, said sales have been strong. Its marketing goal of selling 1.2 million cans may be met a year earlier than expected, the company said.

"Surprised? Oh yeah, because you just can't just challenge the big boy and expect to do that well in the first year," said Percy Higashi, Webco's vice president.

But Higashi acknowledges putting a major dent in Spam will be a challenge.

"I don't think anyone has been successful against Hormel in Hawaii," he said. Tulip, made solely for the Hawaii market, isn't sold in any other states.

Well, maybe these foreign invaders will take some market share, but will anyone ever compose a haiku to their product?

Pink beefy temptress
I can no longer remain

I think not.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 07, 2004 to Food, glorious food | TrackBack

I'm proud to say that I've never eaten Spam, and after this, I may never go to Hawaii. I like to think that there's more important things in this world than a Spam fight.

Posted by: William Hughes on March 7, 2004 12:41 PM

I say we ship Paris Hilton, Martha Stewart and Howard Dean to Hawai'i and make them live with a family of 6 native islanders. They'll eat Spam, learn to play the ukulele, sell the family homestead to Donald Trump's assistant, and return the cursed idol that Bobby stole from the Tiki Caves. In a very special episode, Laura and Barbara Bush will show up and tell everyone to turn this crap off and read a book.

I think we should call it "Look at These Idiots." Anyone want to work up a treatment?

Posted by: Michael on March 7, 2004 2:25 PM

I like the idea, but you need to have Don Ho in there somewhere. It's just not Hawai'i without him.

Posted by: William Hughes on March 7, 2004 6:49 PM

Hey! As a 26-year resident of Hawai'i, I resent these false stereotypes!

Posted by: Linkmeister on March 7, 2004 7:32 PM

Although, when I read a story about a new McDonalds of Hawai'i menu item featuring Spam...

Posted by: Linkmeister on March 7, 2004 7:40 PM

William: Don Ho will be teaching them Ukulele and singing the theme song--Shock The Monkey (yes, there's a clip on the site. Yes, really...)

Posted by: Michael on March 8, 2004 7:43 AM


I see it but I don't believe it. Don Ho singing "Shock the Monkey" sounds like one of my recurring midnight thoughts: Great Albums You'll Never Hear, featuring:

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sings The Best of Chicago Blues ("Got My Mojo Working" led to my calling in sick the next day)

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sings The Best of Gangsta Rap ("F*&k The Police" and "Gin and Juice" was another day off)

Itzahk Perlman Plays the Best of Stevie Ray Vaughan (If Nigel Kennedy can do Jimi Hendrix's "Fire", Itzahk can do "Scuttlebuttin'")

and my latest creation:

Yo-Yo Ma and Jessaye Norman Performing Their Tribute to the Sex Pistols ("Anarchy In The UK" will never be taken seriously again)

Posted by: William Hughes on March 8, 2004 8:48 AM

Well, considering that I am an indifferent collector of odd covers, I've had that CD with the Don Ho "Shock The Monkey" for a few years. Leslie Gore (she of "It's my party and I'll whinecry if I want to") singing "Dirty Deeds" is a special treat.

Hpwever the Battlefield Band's two-bagpipe version of "Bad Moon Rising" is really good. Why make this stuff up? It's out there... It's the best thing about file trading networks.

Posted by: Michael on March 8, 2004 6:08 PM

And lest we forget, there is always A Classic Case, The London Symphony Orchestra Plays the Works of Jethro Tull, featuring Ian Anderson on Flute.

What do you think people are filling their forty-gig iPods with, Howard Jones remixes?

Posted by: Michael on March 8, 2004 6:12 PM

You know, it greatly amuses me how this comment thread has turned into a discussion of cover songs. There's probably some immutable law of thread merges that's at play here.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on March 8, 2004 9:53 PM