Everything Spam

SPAM Jam is one of those only-in-Hawaii events, with food, music and fun for the whole family. It happens in Waikiki on Saturday

Linda Dela Cruz
Friday - April 29, 2005
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SPAMMY gets down with Inoa‘ole — from left, Pomai Souza,
Kevin Phillip, Jerry Lee, George Taulani, Derek Wegner,
Matthew Honda and Jeff Phillip

A handshake, hug or high five from SPAMMY, the 6-foot-tall SPAM mascot, are among the many fun things to experience at the third annual Waikiki Spam Jam 2005 from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday on Kalakaua Avenue, along with free entertainment and, of course, lots of onolicious SPAM concoctions to sample.

SPAMMY’s shiny gold top glistens in the sun as he flashes the shaka sign, dances with keiki and makes people smile while 25,000 visitors and residents enjoy the festivities sponsored by the Waikiki Improvement Association, Times Super Market and Aloha Petroleum.

“It’s not so much to promote SPAM as it is to create a fun atmosphere and a great event in Waikiki,” says Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association. “The association wanted the event to bring local entertainment to the streets of Waikiki. One of the complaints was that there weren’t events for locals to come to. This is something our visitors and locals enjoy. And luckily, this event has run in the black every time.”

He says visitors are already hoping to plan their trips around SPAM Jam and are trying to find out when the SPAM Jams are held.

Egged’s favorite items from last year’s event were the SPAM quesadilla, the SPAM Portuguese bean soup from the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, and the SPAM smoothie from the Renaissance Ilikai. That smoothie didn’t have any SPAM, assures Egged. It was made of strawberry, pineapple, apple and mango.

Inoa‘ole kicks off the star-studded entertainment on the KCCN FM 100 stage at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center at 5 p.m. with its island contemporary, R&B, hip-hop and reggae music. The seven-member band, which played at last year’s event, will perform Take A Raft from their CD Genres. Inoa‘ole lead vocalist Derek Wegner’s favorite side dish is called SPAM Kelaguen, which has onions and lemons. Wegner, who is originally from Guam, says folks in Guam eat even more SPAM than we do in Hawaii.

“We had a great time last year, good fun,” Wegner recalls. “We didn’t know they blocked off the street, so we had to run to the stage with our instruments.”

Wegner acknowledges the harmony of Inoa’ole’s group members: lead singers George Taulani and Jerry Lee, bass guitarist Jeff Phillip, drummer Kevin Phillip, keyboarder Matthew Honda, and guitarist/vocalist Pomai Souza.

Pili‘oha starts off the entertainment on the Hawaiian 105 KINE stage at the Outrigger Waikiki. Entertainment includes Ho‘onua, Sean Na‘auao, Maunalua and Sudden Rush. Also gracing the stages are Halau Na Mamo o Ka‘ala and Halau Na Maka o Pu‘uwai.

“We have some of the best entertainment in the world; sometimes we take it for granted,” says Egged, noting that Hawaii is the No. 3 exporter for culture and the arts next to New York and California. “We went through a period where entertainment was an afterthought, and now we’ve brought it back to center stage.”

To spice up the SPAM Jam, Hormel, the Minnesota-based company that makes SPAM, partnered with Aloha Airlines to run a contest to choose just one person to be the first-ever Mr. or Ms. SPAM Hawaii. No bathing suit, talent, world peace platforms or formal wear competition here. The most creative idea for a SPAM commercial is the criteria used to narrow it down to the final five contestants, which were posted on the www.hawaiian105.com and www.kccnfm100.com under Contests on April 15. The winner is the one with the most votes on the two radio stations’ websites, and the deadline to vote is April 29. One winner emerges to get 365 cans of SPAM and $1,000. The five finalists, whose love of and enthusiasm for the luncheon meat impressed the folks at Hormel, are Honolulu’s Dr. Holly Chung Lindsay and Gregg Matsushima, Kailua’s Tami Mahelona, Kihei’s Bessie Kuuipo King and Kailua-Kona’s Dennis Lawson. The final entries included poems, animation ideas, and a Hawaiian cultural theme. One entry even had two fisherman chatting to each other in pidgin.

The finalists will be introduced from 6:15 to 6:30 p.m. on the KCCN stage in front of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. A half an hour later, the winner gets to claim the title of Mr. or Ms. SPAM Hawaii 2005 at the Hawaiian 105 stage fronting the Outrigger Waikiki. A representative from the national office of Hormel will be there to congratulate the lucky winner.

Speaking of love of SPAM, did you know that Hawaii consumes more than 6.9 million cans of SPAM each year, making it the state that buys more SPAM than any other in the United States? So, that means that Hawaii’s done its fair share of increasing Hormel’s 6 billion cans of SPAM sold since its inception in 1937 in Austin, Minn. SPAM is spiced ham made of pork shoulder, ham and secret spices. Hawaii’s love for SPAM is so well-known that Chef Sam Choy will be serving SPAM musubi at the upcoming daylong SPAMily reunion at the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minn., on June 18. (The museum is located at 1937 Spam Blvd.)

L.H “Les” Gamble, who died in January, was the force who helped bring SPAM to Hawaii. Spam was in Hawaii since 1946 and in 1950 Hormel appointed Les as the representative. Today, his son Hoagie Gamble, carries on the family tradition.

“The love affair (with SPAM) started back in the mid-1950s to the 1960s and it grew to its max in the 1970s. It’s been a steady 5 million pounds,” says Gamble. “We’ve been asked many times why people in Hawaii love SPAM. I think blending bland white rice that doesn’t have that much taste with SPAM that has lots of taste is like the perfect marriage. Hawaii people always enjoyed pork products, and Hormel produces some of the finest pork in the world. SPAM is always of the highest quality, and it represents a good value here. It can feed large families with a can of SPAM in fried rice or SPAM and eggs. Through the years it’s taken on its own life. We are celebrating that Hawaii is the No. 1 state for eating SPAM, and we’re having fun with it.”

And just as SPAM musubi is a combination of nori, SPAM and rice, the community has combined its efforts as sponsors to create the SPAM Jam. This year’s sponsors include the Outrigger Enterprises, Ohana Hotels, Queen Emma Foundation, Aston Resort Quest Hawaii, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center,Aloha Airlines, ABC Stores, Island Mini Mart, Waikiki Trader and Hormel Foods.

There’s more than just SPAM dishes at the festival. And for those who are on the hunt for having SPAM in a different way — besides with rice and eggs — here are some of the featured SPAM dishes: spicy SPAM poke from the Renaissance Ilikai, SPAM fried rice from 3 Star Restaurant, SPAM Hot Dogs from Royal Hawaiian Hot Dogs, SPAM fried from Coconut Willy’s, and SPAM katsu from K’s Restaurant. Other innovative recipes include chipotle pulled pork and SPAM quesadilla, and SPAM chicken cordon bleu covered in sherry cream sauce from the Radisson Prince Kuhio. Leo’s Greek Taverna serves up the classic favorite SPAM musubi, and Ono Kettle Korn dishes out SPAM Somen Salad.

Not only does the block party offer good food, good fun, and good entertainment, but it also helps the Hawaii Foodbank. Times Super Market puts the buzz into the community by encouraging customers to donate one, three or 12 cans to the “Great Wall of SPAM.” Last year, 4,000 cans of SPAM were stacked up to look like Diamond Head at the SPAM Jam, and then they were donated to the food bank. This year, the cans will be arranged in the shape of an outrigger canoe.

Tad Fujiwara, Ed Vargas and Sharon Nanbu
of Times are coordinating the SPAM Jam
Food Drive for the Foodbank

Ed Vargas, director of purchasing of Times Supermarket, says it’s a lot of fun to be creative and promote the event in a way that benefits the community.

“And the food bank likes that it was an extra food drive they weren’t thinking about,”Vargas says. “Canned meat is protein and an important commodity for them.”

Vargas even had internal contests going on to see which store collected the most cans of SPAM. The festival is also specifically timed so that happens near the same time as the Hawaii Foodbank Food Drive.

People who buy SPAM to donate to the Hawaii Foodbank from Times Super Market or Island Mini-Marts will be entered to win a fourday trip for two to New York City to see the Broadway show Monty Python’s SPAMalot, and $500. The show opened on Valentine’s Day this year at the Shubert Theater. The play, based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, stars David Hyde Pierce, who played Dr. Niles Crane on Frazier; Tim Curry, who plays King Arthur; and Hank Azaria, who does voiceovers for some of the Simpsons cartoon characters. Azaria also played Phoebe’s boyfriend, David, on Friends.

Becoming friends is what’s happened as a result of the start of this new Waikiki tradition. Barbara Campbell, the chair of this year’s SPAM Jam, recalls the initial stages of it.

Rick Egged and Barbara Campbell prepare for Saturday’s
big day

“Bitsy Kelley came to me and said she has just talked with someone,” notes Campbell, who is a vice president of retail development and leasing for Outrigger Enterprises. “Wouldn’t it be fun if we could do a SPAM festival in Waikiki?’”

“We wanted to do something whimsical,” says Charlian Wright of Aloha Festivals, who has helped organize the event from the start.

Campbell thinks it is a clever idea. They called it the Waikiki SPAM Jam, contacted Hormel, and got its permission. “I love to talk to visitors about it; they think it’s the coolest thing,” says Campbell. “And the media around the world has heard of it. The Japanese think it’s really clever. Outrigger has always been involved in helping the community and this is part of helping the Waikiki community. And by helping the food bank, we’re helping the entire state.”

This event has really grown to be an effort of the greater Waikiki area.

“We have so much fun putting this all together,we’ve become friends,” adds Campbell, who points out that there’s nothing like a SPAM musubi on the golf course.

The Waikiki Improvement Association’s goal is to make Waikiki a place that locals and visitors enjoy. The 200-member organization consists of business owners in Waikiki and those who do business in Waikiki. WIA also coordinates the Brunch on the Beach and Sunset on the Beach events with the support of the City and County of Honolulu and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

For more information on the Waikiki SPAM Jam 2005 and parking options for kamaaina, log onto www.waikikiimprovement.com, or call 255-5927. To view a list of parking options on the site, click on Waikiki Events, and Holoholo Parking.


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