A Great Depression era food still famous today

   Here's a well-known food product that first appeared in 1937, during the Great Depression.  It was inexpensive and easy to prepare.  It is still enjoyed by many American families today.  In Hawaii it is especially popular, and people compete to create tasty meals using Spam.


canned pork
meat product

   Are you wondering about email "spam"?  Yes, the origin of the word is from Spam canned meat, apparently because the product seems to be on the shelves everywhere.

   Keep in mind that for unemployed people during the Great Depression, meals were made from whatever low-cost foods could be found.  Often that meant potatoes chopped and cooked in a skillet with a few onions and beans.  A slice of Spam would be a welcome treat.

   The photo below shows a line of men waiting to get a free meal from a soup kitchen.  These were set up by churches, charity groups, and city governments to help people with no other options.  Notice the sign about halfway down the line.  Donations have paid for meals for the people in front of the sign.  The sign asks for more donations from anyone walking or driving by.  A dollar donation, the sign says, will provide twenty more people in the line with a meal.



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Spam can photo courtesy the Hormel Foods Corp. media center.
The soup kitchen line photo is from the Library of Congress.
Some images have been edited or resized for this page.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright 2009, 2014 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.  As a guide to the Virginia Standards of Learning, some pages necessarily include phrases or sentences from that document, which is available online from the Virginia Department of Education.  The author's copyright extends to the original text and graphics, unique design and layout, and related material.