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Hawaii residents invited to design label for Spam

By Erika Engle


Hawaii graphic designers and creative, technically inclined nonprofessional designers 18 and older now have their shot at immortality — by designing a new label for the Less Sodium Spam can.

"The people of Hawaii have always been strong supporters of the Spam brand," said Jen Ostervich, associate product manager for North America. Featuring a Hawaii resident's design "would be a great way to thank the state."

Hawaii is the top per capita Spam consumer in the U.S. We buy more than 6 million cans a year to slap atop musubis, fill omelets and add to casseroles, among other dishes.

Guam is the top consumer in the world, though the exact sales figure was not available.

The grand prize winner, to be announced April 30 at Waikiki Spam Jam, will receive $1,000, a case of Spam, a Spam gift bag containing branded merchandise — and of course their winning design on the product, to be sold in Hawaii stores from mid-July through the end of the year. Four runners-up will receive a case of Spam and a gift bag.

Entries can be submitted through Feb. 18, and guidelines are specific: Those not submitted in JPEG format will be disqualified.

The public will get to vote on its favorite designs from Feb. 21 through 25, and Hormel will choose the final winner from the top five vote-getters. Unlike "American Idol," though, balloting is limited to one vote per e-mail address per day.

A limited production, Hawaii-branded "collector's edition" Less Sodium Spam can was released in 2003.

"We have had special, commemorative labels on products, but this is the first time, I believe, that (a package) will be designed by one of our consumers in Hawaii," Ostervich said. The 2003 Hawaii can featured Spam musubis and kitschy hula dolls.

Of the eight types of Spam, the Less Sodium formulation is the top-selling variety in the state, Ostervich said, which must be some of consolation to the state's physicians and maybe a nod to its availability in bulk alongside its full-salt sibling at membership stores.

Reviewing the contest rules could cause onos for the product in question — onos that might be sated using one of the cookbooks by Ann Kondo Corum, Muriel Miura or others, or via, which also sports a recipe exchange.


The Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement was created 20 years ago this year — and a full year of activities is planned to reinvigorate the movement and the restaurant industry and put Hawaii back in its rightful place as a top-of-mind foodie destination.

A March 9 Hawaii dinner at the James Beard House in New York City is one, nearly sold-out step, according to Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director Gail Ann Chew.

Later this year, the 12 founding HRC chefs will be inducted into the association's Hall of Fame to celebrate what the chefs started two decades ago with superstar talent manager and Maui resident Shep Gordon. The association registered the lapsed HRC service mark to keep the brand alive.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at


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Hawaii SPAM can design contest begins

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