August 24, 2012, - 12:57 pm

Obamaconomy: Spam Sales Way Up Due to Tough Times

By Debbie Schlussel

Since I’m Jewish and keep kosher, I’m prohibited from eating Spam by my religion. But even if I were not, you could not make me eat the stuff (unless it were the absolute last digestible source of food on earth). Sadly, many Americans who previously felt the same way are now eating it up because it’s all they can afford in this tough Obama economy. As a result, in the last three years of terrible economic conditions, Hormel’s earnings–largely because of Spam and cheap canned goods–have gone way up.


Let Them Eat Spam

Hormel Foods Corp.’s fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 13%, led by strong growth in products like Spam canned pork and Mexican salsas, as sales volumes rose at each of the company’s divisions.

The Austin, Minn., meat and packaged-food producer continued a three-year trend of increasing revenue. . . .

Volumes within Hormel’s grocery-products division, which includes Spam and an array of Mexican salsas, rose 16% in the latest quarter. . . .

The shaky U.S. economy has pushed consumers toward cheaper products and smaller purchases, boosting Hormel’s sales of conventional pantry fare like canned chili.

If you work for Hormel, your job is probably safe so long as the economy is bad. If Obama is re-elected (or if Romney is elected and stays the Obama course, which he apparently will for the most part), your job will probably remain safe.

Obama will continue to eat arugula and gourmet organics. His kids will continue to eat their fancy wild-caught salmon luncheons at their exorbitant, elite private school. But as for the rest of America, his attitude is . . .

Let them eat Spam!

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51 Responses


Turkey SPAM exists.

That’s said, its a cheap food in tough times and can be prepared in different ways left only up to one’s culinary imagination.

NormanF on August 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Didn’t someone recently say “the private sector is doing fine”?

Road Warrior on August 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm


    Well, a quick glance at today’s headlines reveals that our splendid shining Rominee more or less believes the same thing.

    I try not to laugh whenever I hear people robotically recite the mindless claim that this is the most striking contrast, like, EVAH. I defy anyone to name a presidential election from the last 120 years in which there’s been LEcontras “contrast.”

    As for Spam, I’ve actually been in the Pacific region for the last few months. The natives here GOBBLE that stuff up. Some stores have an entire section devoted to it, yuck!

    Statusmonkey on August 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      Correction: LESS of a “contrast.”

      Statusmonkey on August 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Makes excellent fried rice.

pat on August 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

DS, the real story here may be the “salsa” sales. Hormel makes Herdez Brand. A line of Mexican foods manufactured primarily in Mexico, with some American cannings also. Herdez is cheap, authentic, and sold in discount stores like Kmart, Walmart, etc. It is a food of choice for Mexican immigrants.

pat on August 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Readers of this column no doubt acknowledge the fact that President Obama is a Marxist. In Marxism there is a concept known as “the revolutionary elite”. They are the leaders of the movement who — in the case of Marxism-Leninism — understand the call of history and are tasked with moving the masses in the proper direction. These people are entitled to live differently than the masses, the case being illustrated by arugula and wild caught salmon.

A more frequently illustrated example is the Marxist Leninist concept of “heightening the contradiction.” This we have see in the rapidly declining economy – not an accident. “Heightening the contradiction” means that one drives a bad situation to make it worse so that the masses will be more willing to accept a radical solution.

Gloria Stewart on August 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Spam and eggs isn’t bad. Otherwise I don’t normally touch the stuff.

Alan on August 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Well, you can actually do worse than Spam. You could be stuck eating this fine Armour product:

Treet is no Treat.

Worry01 on August 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Of course, this quantifies the Obama Economy nicely:

At this rate, squirrels, raccoons, and gophers might start disappearing from the parks.

Worry01 on August 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Although I fault Obama for many things, eating arugula and wild salmon are not among them. They are both foods that contribute to good health, and just as I don’t criticize successful people for enjoying various amenities, I don’t fault them for eating healthful foods (at least in part).

Little Al on August 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Al, I do not think that anyone is faulting them for eating such things. This issue is that the Obamas claim to connect directly with the middle class, the poor, and minorities. Barack Obama villifies the rich, entrepreneurs who make it, etc. He disparages their exorbitant way of life and insists that they scale things down for the sake of the country. After all of that class warfare, Mr. Obama proceeds to does things and downs other things that nine out of ten Americans could not even dream of eating or doing in their lives. That is what gets Mr. Obama’s opponents upset. If Mr. Obama were not engaging in his scold the rich routine, he could drink fine teas laced with silver, and I would not care.

    Worry01 on August 25, 2012 at 2:35 am

Debbie, you are correct that SPAM (whose brand name is derived from a product called “SPiced hAM,” has done exceptional sales during the Obama administration, and that this is another indicator that times have gotten harder for more Americans. Indeed, three years after the “offical” recession ended, middle class Americans are still feeling the economic pinch, with most saying they have been forced to reduce spending in the past year.

And fewer now believe that hard work will allow them to get ahead in life. Middle class median income has been falling! Families are now more likely to say their children’s economic future will be the same or worse than their own.

However, this is not just a Republican vs. Democrat problem. It is, unfortunately, a LONG-TERM TREND–and politicians from both sides are to blame. There has been no real choice for Americans in a long time. According to one poll, 85% of middle class Americans say it is more difficult now than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living.

Here is what Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison economics professor who specializes in income inequality, had to say about the problem:

“The job market is changing, our living standards are falling in the middle, and middle-income parents are now afraid that their children will be worse off than they are.”

The answer, of course, is to put the entire focus on the middle class when developing and executing national economic policy because the middle class is the backbone of America; it’s heart and soul. But that’s not what’s been happening!

Check the stock price chart out for Hormel, which manufactures SPAM. The tale of the tape tells all. You don’t have to do any fancy regression analysis to see the inexorable trend:

Ralph Adamo on August 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Off-topic: speaking of the Jeffrey Johnson rampage near the Empire State building today, I found this instructive:

“Johnson is not thought to have had a criminal record. Officials do not yet know whether the attacker’s gun was acquired legally.”

The same thing is true of Islamic terrorists. They usually don’t have a criminal record and they probably bought their arsenal legally.

Speaking of which, Mikey Bloomberg’s New York is a gun-free utopia and someone was still able to shoot people to death there. Gun control policies of the kind advocated by Bloomberg and other anti-Second Amendment liberals only disarms the victims and does nothing to stop a killer.

But don’t look for Bloomberg to re-evaluate his blind opposition to common sense gun ownership by law-abiding Americans in the wake of today’s deadly incident in his own city, which its infamous draconian gun control laws did nothing to stop.

NormanF on August 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Debbie I remember growing we use to eat this stuff. Since we didn’t have much money Spam became a staple in our household. We also had the ghetto cheaper version of Spam called Treet. Treet was a knockoff like Malt-O-Meal cerals versus Kellogs and General Mills. It also took some getting used to. I had thought that I left Spam behind until I joined the Navy and got stationed in Hawaii. The Hawaiians ate the stuff like it was going out of style. They even had a Pizza Hut pizza with Spam and pineapple. Now I won’t touch it with a ten foot fork. Fortunately I do well enough in the ObamaCONomy to afford better meat products. Trust me Debbie like you said even if you weren’t kosher you’re not missing much. There are some foods from my childhood that I can’t stomach anymore. Peas, beets, lima beans and Spam/Treet are the top four.

Ken b on August 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

… and Norman, 15 people were shot in Chicago yesterday alone. More gun restrictions are necessary!!


Road Warrior on August 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Debbie, I admire and respect you, but disagree: SPAM is not the worst thing (or the cheapest thing) there is to eat. Since falling on hard times, the majority of the meat I buy for my family has been frozen before its sell by date and — ocassionally — the chicken is less than great. This averages $2 per pound. “Real” SPAM is about $3 for a 12 ounce can ($4 per pound). The imitation SPAM that I get at Aldi is about $2 a can.

I only disagree about this detail, not about your general point, which is correct. You are 100 percent correct in the assertion that many people are eating lower-quality, lower-cost food than they used to.

Keep up the good work Debbie.

MomInMinnesota on August 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Dear MominMinnesota: What does your butcher charge for lamb neck? It’s a very cheap cut of meat and you can make some very tasty things, stew and Scotch broth, out of it.

    Miranda Rose Smith on August 26, 2012 at 9:51 am

Debbie my dear, I hear that Spam is very tasty when fried and served with eggs. I’ve never had it but I would try it if offered some.

Now, here’s a question for you, I was recently told about the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). They said it was the opposite of CAIR…what can you tell us about AIFD, is it a good group or what? Thanks

alex on August 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm

[DISCLAIMER: I am not connected with Hormel in any way except as a staisfied customer] I realize that Spam is often disparaged, but I’m not proud – I think Spam is delicious and that it helped feed our boys to defeat the Nazis in WWII is pretty cool.

I raised 4 kids on it, still eat it every week and I’m healthy as a horse at age 50. People often guess that I’m in my late 30s. I attribute some of that to Spam.

Anyway, the funny thing is that I’ve always viewed it as a luxury. I try to find it on sale, but $2.50 for that little can doesn’t stretch very far and we’ve always found creative ways to make it last such as on PB&J sandwiches or just PB sandwiches, cubed in Mac and cheese, grilled and served with white rice.

Wish I had one of those commemorative Obama “hope and change” tins, though. Great article, Debbie.

DS_ROCKS! on August 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I completely agree! It’s not filet mignon, but it’s pretty good!

    MomInMinnesota on August 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      Keep an eye out for big cans of salmon, on sale. You can mix them with eggs, spices and bread crumbs, mold them into patties and fry them. Great croquettes.

      ONE twelve ounce package of DRIED chickpeas will make enough falafel for a party of twenty people.

      Miranda Rose Smith on August 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

    A few years ago I saw a program about life in the UK during WWII for civilians. Then another program via UTube called “Supersize Me Britain in WWII”, which although a comedy was very information.

    Life, as explained and illustrated by both programs was pretty tough with the rationing and Britiam even depended on food and clothing aid boxes from individual American families in the USA.

    Special Produced American Meats…SPAM! Was a huge hit as in many cases it was the only meat available to families in the UK. Even fish was rationed.SOmetimes people would actually hunt rabnbits and squirrels in the wild for food and gather wild berries and herbs. But not enough.

    A touching moment in the comedy show was the re-enactment of a VICTORY Party attended by modern kids of today and some adults who attended the actual VICTORY parties as kids about 70 years ago. The modernkids made horrid faces (and some even spit it out) as they ate plain porridge and some type of sugar deprived cake…while the oldsters ate it all with great gusto!

    So I guess people who appreciated JUST nutrition and sense of a full tummy brought with some kind of meat in their days of need might still enjoy the SPAM not as food but a pleasant memory of “NOT going without meat or just food in general”.

    I will say this, both shows expressed GREAT GRATITUDE for American help during the early years of WWII, when the USA was not fully involved. And to the average American families who sent relief boxes to average citizens of the UK.. MANY, MANY KIND WORDS were expressed and even tears of “Thank you, AMERICA”.

    Brought a few tears to my eyes too.

    Now, time for some SPAM and eggs! Yum.

    Alabama Pride on August 25, 2012 at 9:58 am

MomInMN: Just saw your previous post covering the cost of Spam and Debbie’s general assertions of why Spam sales are up. Good points (the former being duplicated by me in my subsequent post.)

Oh, and in case anyone’s interested, I started buying the Lite Spam a couple of years ago. That’s really pretty good, too.

But further on the economy of Spam, with only one little one left at home, I can get three solid meals out of a tin for her (she’s only 7, but a good eater) if I slice it thin and use it creativley like in a PB& J as mentioned, or two meals if I can’t resist and i gobble a few pieces myself while I’m slicing.

So, compared to a quality brand lunch meat and with Spam being more fun and tasty IMO, I guess it is a fairly economical meat-meal.

I can’t believe how much I have to say about Spam!

DS_ROCKS! on August 24, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Turkey SPAM might be kosher. It’s not bad, packs well, great for camping / traveling, but of course additional ingredients always help. Yeah, I also grew up on pork-based SPAM.

Dick on August 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Sorry, Dick. There is no such a thing as Kosher SPAM, even if made with “turkey” as the meat source. You see, it’s not just the pork that makes the product impossible to be Kosher, but it’s also the parts of the animals, the treatment of the animals, the machinery that’s used, and so forth.

    Ralph Adamo on August 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Dare to be Dull!

Worry on August 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Well, obviously some people love SPAM, some hate it, some are apathetic to it, and some want to have nothing to do with it. I think that covers everyone. For a funny take on SPAM, the best skit ever done on the subject is a Monty Python sequence. As Monty Python fans know, those fellow were each highly educated, and that intelligence is reflected in the humor. The SPAM sequence, for example, has some fun with, among other things, the concept of mathematical permutations, which deals with the sequence of things, and in which the order of those things matters. (For example, what most people call a “combination lock” is really a premutation lock because you won’t be able to open the lock unless you use the correct sequence of turns and numbers, and not just the numbers.) Anyway, here’s the bit. It still makes me laugh:

Ralph Adamo on August 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Those of you who said that Spam is wildly popular in Hawaii are correctamundo. They love it there..

And Spam sounds gross but when it’s in front of you it’s quite tasty. Especially if one is an inventive gormand. And you like ham. That deviled ham is like that too. Looks gross but spread it on bread and it’s salty and heavenly!

Hormel makes a great canned chili. I haven’t eaten it in years but I love their chili with cheesy scrambled eggs and toast with butter and strawberry jam. That is a very tasty meal if you want something cheap but with a good taste that packs a punch.

If Obama gets re-elected the times are gonna even be more dire than this very moment. And we will deserve it.

Skunky on August 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm

i stock up on caned goods and freeze dried food plus we have a large garden.we can our veggies just like our moms and grand moms did which we eat all winter we also have live stock. my wife and i grew up poor so we are not afraid of a lower standard of living we can survive.spam and hotdogs is what i grew up on so it is hard to look at them but i have and will eat any thing that doesn’t eat me first.if you have guns,gold and land you can do ok no matter what bongo and the national socialist workers party does to price are high because of the ethanol mandate which is little more than burning your food for no gain in milage or pollution.coal oil is a much better fuel than ethanol or diesel but it is politicaly incorrect.

BRUCE on August 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I ate SPAM as a kid because that is probably all we could afford. My parents never apologized or anything, I just shut up and ate my meals. I probably haven’t touched the stuff since 1963 or so. To-this-day In Guam, Saipan, etc., the local Chamorros eat it like crazy. It must be a WWII holdover thing…corned beef hash too

#1 Vato on August 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm

My parents couldn’t afford SPAM. 😉 OK with me, never cared for the stuff. Had it once or twice and the memory still remains. I can still taste it at the mere mention of the word.
The hash is OK though. A staple of my ‘single’ days.
But, … I Love their chili! The no-beans chili with some cheddar on a hot dog, washed down with a cold Bud is pure Americana to me.

theShadow on August 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Shadow, when you cannot afford Spam, there is always Treet. It is the poor man’s last refuge, and a rich man’s dog food. 🙂

    Worry01 on August 25, 2012 at 12:16 am

When I first saw this headline, I thought that junk e-mail sales are up 😀

Infidel on August 25, 2012 at 3:58 am

Debbie, all our rabbis agree that when the choice is between eating treif or dying by starvation, you eat the treif, and that includes non-western “foods” like dogs and cats. It’s considered more important to save your life than to keep kosher and die because of it. This is the Orthodox halacha right out of Shulchan Aruch. Don’t be holier than thou when it comes to kashrut because you may find yourself in this position if things keep on the way they are.

Italkit on August 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm

A Marine buddy used to tell me stories of Desert Storm where they rounded up groups of surrendering Iraqis. Poor bastards hadn’t eaten for weeks. To keep them quiet they tossed out sausage biscuits. “Is this pork?” the dummies asked. SHUT UP AND EAT!! barked the Jarheads. Eat they did…..

#1 Vato on August 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Spam, it’s whats for dinner! I should say Spam is what people on food stamps will be eating if Chief Blackfoot gets re-elected. Those of us that work won’t have it so good; we’ll only have a choice between vienna sausages or potted meat.

CornCoLeo on August 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm

obamaeconomics……lies, lies and more lies!!…..abhsolutely the worst, period!!

Dave on August 26, 2012 at 2:08 am

For any of you who are on a tight food budget, lentils are cheap, easy to prepare, very mourishing, not fattening, low in cholesterol. They even taste good.

Miranda Rose Smith on August 26, 2012 at 7:24 am

CORRECTION: For any of you who are on a tight food budget, lentils are cheap, easy to prepare, very nourishing, not fattening, low in cholesterol. They even taste good.

Miranda Rose Smith on August 26, 2012 at 7:24 am


Miranda Rose Smith on August 26, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Lentils are good, but if you don’t tolerate legumes and can’t use beano because you are allergic to Penicillin you are out of luck. I won’t even get into metabolic typing but I am a protein type. That means animal protein. I was never fat until I tried to be a vegetarian. It took me years to get back to my proper size and fat to body ratio. I still had a big belly but as soon as I stopped eating gluten in all forms, it went away. We eat meat every day but we eat a lot less than we did in the US. At least good produce is plentiful and reasonably cheap here. We do without other things to be able to eat well. That’s how I was raised. You sacrifice everything but the quality of your food. You can manage with 2 dresses and 2 pairs of shoes all bought at Salvation Army but your food is your health and your health is everything.

    Italkit on August 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm

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