Tins of Spam are being targeted by thieves who sell them to buy drugs.
Shoplifters in Hawaii are stealing cans of the tinned meat then flogging them on the streets for cash to buy drugs, it has emerged.
Hawaiians eat millions of cans of Spam, made from a mixture of pork shoulder, ham, sugar and salt, each year, and has the highest per-capita-consumption in the United States, as well as a dedicated Spam festival.
Ra Long, who owns a convenience store in Honolulu, said shoplifters have typically targeted alcohol in the past, but recently more cans of Spam have gone missing, Hawaii News Now reported.
The shopkeeper said: “I mean you try to keep an eye on it, but if they run, you just can’t leave the counter and chase them. So you just got to take the hit.”
Honolulu police said they had a report of a man lifting a case of the canned meat from a store earlier this month.
Kimo Carvalho, a spokesman for the Institute for Human Services in Hawaii, said people are stealing Spam because it is easy to sell: “It’s quick cash for quick drug money.”
Hawaii’s love affair with Spam began during the Second World War, when rationing led to a need for a meat that needs no refrigeration and has a long shelf life.
The processed meat features in all sorts of recipes. Ann Kondo Corum, who grew up in Hawaii in the 1950s has written several Spam-inspired cookbooks.
She attributed Spam’s popularity partly to Hawaii’s large Asian population, saying: “Asians eat a lot of rice. Spam is salty, and it goes well with rice.”