Wolf Pack get a taste of Spam in Honolulu

Updated: December 23, 2005, 7:26 PM ET
Associated Press

HONOLULU -- Nevada receiver Caleb Spencer is used to getting funny looks from his friends and football teammates in Reno when he cooks up a dish of Spam.

But his teammates, in Honolulu this week to play in the Hawaii Bowl, are learning that the canned processed meat is part of daily life for those on the islands.

"Everyone here just grew up with Spam," Spencer, a Hawaii native, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "It is a delicacy here. It's like steak."

Quarterback Jeff Rowe, one of Spencer's closest friends, now understands.

"I know he eats Spam in Reno, but I thought he was just being cheap," Rowe said. "I didn't realize until now that people here eat it all the time."

Hawaiians consume nearly seven million cans of Spam every year, an average of six cans per person.

"They serve it everywhere here," Spencer said. "We all love it. They have it at McDonald's and sell it at 7-Elevens and the ABC stores. We grew up with Spam."

Two favorite dishes among locals are Spam musabi, which is a slice of Spam on top of rice and wrapped in seaweed, and Spam-fried rice.

Nevada assistant coach Kim McCloud, who played football and met his wife at the University of Hawaii, said he was shocked when he learned about the popularity of Spam here.

"It is just amazing," said McCloud, who grew up in Los Angeles. "The only time we ate Spam was when we were dead broke. I get over here for college, and it is everywhere."

Spencer said he'll continue to eat Spam, despite the razzing he gets from friends in Reno.

"I love it, man," he said. "People in Reno always look at me like, 'Why do you eat that stuff?' But that's what I grew up on. It's good stuff."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press