Did Roy Choi Just Sell Out By Endorsing SPAM?
Answer: Of course not! Yes, we know, it’s counterintuitive as all hell, but let’s explain.
Spam, Spam, wonderful Spam announced today that they’d entered into a marketing partnership with who else but Roy Choi, lovely, food-trucking Roy, countercultural Roy. The creator of the Kogi BBQ Truck, who features Spam at his restaurant Chego, will create Spam-based recipes for the brand. Hormel, Spam’s owners, will then share them with the world through the sexy power of social media (and the magic of the food-stuff’s dubious mascot, Sir Can-A-Lot, who has nothing to do with the Monty Python musical at all.)
But while there’s no end to the jokes one can make about Spam, the real question is did Choi sell out by endorsing this corporate product? “No shark jumping here,” he told The LA Times, “Just speaking for my community.”
As he points out in his PR statement, Spam is, indeed, a mainstay in many Asian and Pacific Island communities. Thanks to things like geographic isolation, American military bases, and postwar food rationing, Spam became a staple ingredient, eventually turning into awesome foods like Spam fried rice, Spam musubi, Spam sandwiches, etc. Choi knows what’s up:
“The SPAM® brand echoes my passion for connecting the world together in celebrating how many families survived and prospered, seeing the can as a sense of hope and as a delicious mainstay. This recipe creation has allowed me to also more intimately connect with my Korean heritage, Hawaii, and with all immigrant families that made their way to America.”
Sir Can-A-Lot, however, does not have such a rich heritage from which to draw culinary inspiration.