Most people are well aware of Hawaii's love affair with SPAM®. The ubiquitous pink, gelatinous block of pork has become a fixture of the local diet since its introduction in World War II. The uncertainty of island life both then (in time of war) and now (subject to the mercy of hurricanes, tsunamis, and striking shipyard workers) necessitated a product that was both portable, durable, and had no need of refrigeration. A necessary staple to have on the shelf in case of emergency like bags of rice and toilet paper, SPAM® has slowly taken a prominent place on Hawaii's culinary pallet. It has replaced bacon at breakfast, ham on pizzas, and hot dogs at the local convenience stores. The saltiness of SPAM® also makes it a perfect complement to the Pacific Rim cuisine for which Hawaii is best known. It has become so popular, in fact, that it has its own festival right in the heart of Waikiki.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Waikiki SPAM® Jam (www.spamjamhawaii.com) held on April 28, 2012, from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. along Kalakaua Avenue. The Waikiki SPAM® Jam is an annual street party celebrating Hawaii's love for the canned meat covering 3 city blocks. Kalakaua Avenue will be closed to car traffic for the event, and two entertainment stages are set up on the street, one in front of the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and the second fronting the Royal Hawaiian Center and will feature some of Hawaii's finest entertainers. Between the stages, several of Honolulu's finest chefs and restaurants will be serving up SPAM® inspired meals and products, so you can experience the enormous variety of its applications. Among the favorites are SPAM® and Eggs, SPAM® Musubi, SPAM® and Rice, SPAM® Tacos, SPAM® Lau Lau and SPAM® Poke.
Two merchandise tents will be selling SPAM® themed items including t-shirts, shorts, sport balls, bean bag characters, water bottles, pot holders, slippers and much, much more. Merchandise tents have limited quantities and frequently sell out so come early for the best selection of SPAM® memorabilia. A variety of Hawaiian craft booths will also be set up on the street. This is a entertaining cultural event that benefits the nonprofit Hawaiian Food Bank. It is a unique and fun affair suitable for the entire family! Life size SPAM® cans will be walking around creating atypical picture taking opportunities and we might even catch a glimpse of the new SPAM® spokescharacter, Sir Can-a-Lot. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular family festivals in Hawaii because of its great food and entertainment in a family-friendly atmosphere. Local residents and visitors alike have made this an annual tradition. Last year, an estimated 20,000 people attended the event. Since the Waikiki SPAM® Jam Festival attracts many families, there is also a popular family tent with a variety of games and prizes for kids of all ages.
Admission to the festival is free. Restroom facilities are available in the nearby hotels or at the nearby beach parks. There are numerous public parking facilities in the Waikiki area but you may want to go early to avoid congestion. If you have small children bring a stroller or a carrier. It gets crowded especially around the stage areas so you definitely want to make sure that you can keep a watchful eye on them! Also bring your camera, there are some pretty amazing things you will see made from or related to SPAM®. Most importantly, bring your appetite and try some of the unique local SPAM® creations that Hawaiians have grown to love!