Quick: what's a product that's found in 99% of all supermarkets in the US, sells about 80 million pounds every year, has a 20,000 member-strong fan club, its own museum, and even its own Broadway musical? It's SPAM, of course!
Since its creation in 1937 by Jay Hormel, a former army quartermaster during WWI (see? Hormel was a real guy!), SPAM has not only impacted the culinary world as a food product - it has also become a pop culture sensation: it has been the subject of a Monty Python comedy sketch, countless movie references and fan-made artworks. The all lower-case variation of the product's name ("spam") has even entered the English lexicon as a term for unsolicited emails (yes, an unflattering term, but there's no such thing as bad publicity.)
Sooner or later, any good pop culture sensation needs a definitive guide (and a Neatorama post and free giveaway ... more on that later). For SPAM, it comes just in time for its 70th anniversary, in the form of this fun and richly illustrated book by Dan Armstrong and Dustin Black: The Book of SPAM.
Whether you love SPAM or not, there's no arguing that this book is pretty neat. Billed as "a most glorious and definitive compendium of the world's favorite canned meat," The Book of SPAM outlines how SPAM came into being, what exactly the product is made from, and even its patriotic role in World War II.
The book has a chapter dedicated to the SPAMMOBILE, a strange oblong vehicle shaped and painted like the rectangular can of SPAM, which sole purpose is to travel the United States of America ... giving away free samples of SPAM! The book even has a funny tongue-in-cheek comparison between the SPAMMOBILE and the Popemobile (you'd just have to get a hold of the book and find out yourself!)
SPAMMOBILE. Image: uberculture [Flickr]
Another neat chapter is the coverage of SPAM JAMs, a festival and celebration of everything SPAM held in Minnesota, Hawaii, and Texas every year (complete with a SPAM queen!)
There's so much more that can be written about The Book of SPAM, but let's pick a selection of trivia and neat excerpts that exemplifies the book:
SPAM Label Designs
Show Your SPAM Creativity Contest
Now onto something SPAM-TASTIC: Thanks to Simon & Schuster, we have 20 copies of The Book of SPAM to give away. It's no secret that SPAM lovers are a creative bunch who make a lot of artwork featuring the meat-tastic icon.
So, for this contest, you get to share your SPAM creativity with the world: tell us your best SPAM poem, haiku, limeric, joke (clean and nice ones, please!), artwork, illustrations, favorite SPAM memory - anything! Submit your entry in the comment section - one entry per comment, please, but you can enter as many times as you'd like. Best entry will win a free The Book of SPAM (one per submitter).
The review above as well as the giveaway are sponsored by Simon & Schuster. No SPAM was hurt in the making of this review.
Update 11/4/07 - Thank you for playing guys! I've notified the lucky winners by email.