Honolulu prepares for SPAM JAM

I love crazy, quirky destinations and attractions. In fact, I created and hosted a radio feature called “The Offbeat Destination of the Week,” so I was very pleased to learn that one of Hawaii’s wackiest festivals will take place on Oahu on Saturday, May 3: the 12th Annual Waikiki SPAM JAM®!

SPAM JAM®, as you might have guessed, is not a celebration of the junk e-mail that clogs our inboxes; it’s a street festival in celebration of the famous canned luncheon meat.

“Waikiki SPAM JAM® is one of the most popular and fun-filled festivals in Hawaii because of its great food and entertainment in a family-friendly atmosphere,” Barbara Campbell, vice president of Outrigger Enterprises Group, said in a statement provided to TheTravelPro. Outrigger Enterprises Group, which operates hotels, resorts, and condominiums in eight countries, is one of the event’s founding sponsors.

Each year more than 24,000 people turn out for the Waikiki SPAM JAM® Festival, which closes Kalakaua Avenue, the main thoroughfare through Waikiki, to car traffic from approximately 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., so pedestrians have easy access to numerous food booths that are set up along the festival’s path. Each booth serves a selection of dishes, and SPAM® is the featured ingredient in at least one of their food offerings.

The festival also includes some of Hawaii’s best island groups and musicians performing from two entertainment stages.

The Waikiki SPAM JAM® Festival benefits the Hawaii Foodbank, the only agency in the state that collects, warehouses, and distributes large quantities of both perishable and non-perishable food to 250 member agencies as well as food banks on Oahu, Hawaii’s Big Island, Maui, and Kauai.

If you’ve visited Hawaii, you’re probably well aware of the islands’ love affair with the product. According to The Associated Press, Hawaiians eat about six million cans of SPAM each year, which works out to around five cans per person. Native son and chef Sam Choy serves SPAM kebabs, while numerous restaurants including fast-food outlets McDonald's and Burger King serve SPAM and eggs, which are quite popular at breakfast time.

There are several versions of how the product got its name but, according to Hormel’s website Spam.com, the significance of the SPAM® brand name has long been a subject of speculation.

'Spammy' basking in the glory
“One popular belief says it’s derived from the words 'spiced ham',” the website says. “Others suggest it’s an acronym for 'shoulders of pork and ham.' The real answer is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives,” though the web site also notes that the product was named by the brother of a Hormel executive in a contest held in 1937, the year the product was introduced. For his contribution, Ken Daigneau won a $100 prize.

If you plan to be on Oahu during the festival, it may be helpful to know that, as part of the festivities, Outrigger and OHANA Hotels in Waikiki are offering guests checking in for the weekend a free one category upgrade, based on availability, provided they donate a can of SPAM® product, which will then be donated to the Hawaii Foodbank. To make reservations, visit www.outrigger.com, or call 1-800-688-7444, and ask for the best available rate. The offer is subject to change and availability. Some restrictions may apply.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos provided by Outrigger Hotels and Resorts
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