The Best Tool To Cut Spam Is Part Of The Package

Spam is the undeserving butt of many jokes, primarily for its association with the working classes and its reputation as an inexpensive, processed meat that comes in a can. Its famous lampooning in a 1970 "Monty Python's Flying Circus" sketch led to our use of its name to signify unwanted junk emails. And yet in many parts of the world, in Hawaiian and Asian cuisines in particular, Spam has become a highly regarded staple food.

The product's iconic rectangular can with its familiar blue label has not undergone too many changes since it was first introduced by Hormel in 1937. One thing about the can that has changed, however, is how it gets opened. Originally, like other tinned meats at the time, the can was opened with a key that would turn a piece of metal to roll open the top portion. Today, the cans come with an easy-to-open peel-off lid. Along with being much easier to open this way, the design serves a dual purpose — it's got the best tool to cut Spam built right into the package.


slice spam meat use cover

♬ 原聲 – Joel Tan – Joel Tan

When you pop the top and pull it open, the can's lid can be used to slice the meat directly in the can. While using a knife might seem like the obvious first choice, there are circumstances where one isn't available or practical. Camping, picnics, and even emergency situations come to mind. Using the included lid to divvy up the Spam is not only convenient but also quite fun.

How to cut Spam using only the package lid

Using the makeshift tool is as simple as inserting the lid down into the soft Spam, but there are some tips to make it easy and safe. First, you need to make sure the can is clean. Spam has a long shelf life, so your can may have spent time sitting in a warehouse or just gathering dust in your pantry. Since you'll be sticking the entire lid directly into the food, you should first wash it before opening to remove any dirt. 

The lid slices through the Spam smoothly because its edges are sharp, and unlike a knife, there are no dull edges. You must be careful so that the only thing that gets cut is the meat — and not your fingers. 

The lid may be curled or warped when you first remove it, but you can flatten the thin, malleable metal by hand in order to get even slices. Working widthwise from one shorter side of the can to the other, hold the lid with the tab at the top and insert the bottom end directly into the meat, and then push down until it hits the bottom. Alternatively, you can turn the Spam out onto a cutting board or plate and slice it free of the can. If you've dumped it out this way, you can turn the lid on its side and cut lengthwise for longer slices — or cut in both directions for a diced result.

The best international recipes to cook with Spam

Originally brought to the Pacific islands and Asia during World War II as G.I. rations, U.S. soldiers used the canned meat for trade with locals, and much of it was left behind by the troops when the military campaigns ended. The product eventually became integrated into regional cuisines. Today, there are many ways you can use your lid-sliced Spam inspired by these creative post-war dishes that are still popular today. 

In Hawaii, Spam is so well-loved and ubiquitous that it is practically considered indigenous — it's even on the menu there at McDonald's. One prominent Hawaiian dish with it is Spam musubi. Similar to sushi, it's made with a marinated and grilled slice of Spam, sticky rice, and nori. Perhaps the most symbolic of Spam's integration into other cultures is the Korean dish budae-jjigae, which translates to Army base stew. The soupy mashup is made from a mix of traditional ingredients such as kimchi, spicy gochujang, rice cakes, and noodles, combined with imported fare, including Spam, hot dogs, and American cheese.  

Spam also became an integral part of the food and culture of Okinawa, Japan. To prepare the renowned dish goya chanpuru, the islanders cook it with bitter melon and scrambled eggs, adding flavor with soy or oyster sauce, sake, and bonito. Eggs are commonly paired with Spam, and an excellent way to try this tasty combo is in something like a Vietnamese-style fried Spam and egg báhn mì sandwich.