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Hawaii's Black Market for Spam Is Booming

Say 'aloha' to a new wave of food theft.

Nick Rose

Nick Rose

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

A rash of Spam theft has hit Hawaii—a nation of Spam-lovers, the land of the annual Spam Fest, and the birthplace of Spam musubi.

According to the Washington Post, the problem is getting so out of hand in Hawaii that retailers are having to put cans of the luncheon meat behind locked display cases to prevent these types of heists, which are "most likely part of a Spam black market that's taking off in a state where the demand for Spam knows no bounds."

That might sound a little alarmist, but for a state of 1.44 million, where an estimated seven million cans of Spam are consumed every year, it's a very real issue. The Post goes on to enumerate a string of brazen crimes that ranged from assailants bolting out of stores with shopping carts full of Spam to security guards being assaulted mid-heist.

READ MORE: The History Behind Why Hawaiians Are Obsessed With Spam

The Washington Post also spoke to the president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, Tina Yamaki, who "thinks Spam has become a form of currency, particularly for drug addicts in need of quick cash."

Many of the Spam thieves are reportedly operating in teams, suggesting that this crime wave is more than a bunch of thrill-seeking teenage shoplifters. "It's organized retail crime," Yamaki said. "It's not like 'I'm going in to steal Spam to feed my family. I'm going in with a list of things I want to steal.'"

And much like the emergence of a avocado black market in New Zealand, there is clearly a big enough appetite for this product to make this kind of crime profitable; it's not exactly difficult to unload a few cases of stolen Spam in a place where the canned meat is a way of life.

MUNCHIES reached out to Hormel Foods, which manufactures Spam, for comment on the matter, but has not yet received a response.


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