In times of trouble the United States has historically turned to a tin of pink processed meat to see it through – and so it is again that sales of Spam are soaring as the recession bites.
They have shot up by more than 10 per cent in the past three months and the Hormel Foods Corporation has had to introduce a double shift at its factory in Austin, Minnesota, seven days a week to keep up with demand.
Spam costs only about $2.40 (£1.65) for a 12-ounce tin and keeps for ever, which earned it the slogan: meat with a pause button. Hungry consumers, desperate to cut back on spending but keen to put meat on the table, have been buying the product that “helped win the Second World War”.
The rise coincides with a record level of Americans using food stamps, the programme that helps the needy to buy food. More than 31.5 million Americans used the stamps in September – up by 17 per cent from a year ago, according to government data.
Spam was invented during the Great Depression by Jay Hormel, the son of the founder of the company. It is a brick of ham, pork, sugar, salt, water, potato starch and a hint of sodium nitrite “to help Spam keep its gorgeous pink color”.