Why garnish your burger with fresh toppings, as Wendy’s late founder Dave Thomas always endorsed, when instead you can use good old-fashioned canned precooked meat manufactured by the Hormel Foods Corporation?
As part of its new summer menu, Ted’s Bulletin on Barracks Row recently unveiled the “Hawaii Five-O” burger, made with grilled pineapple, teriyaki glaze and a thin slice of Spam atop your choice of patty (beef, chicken, turkey, or veggie—which, come to think of it, sort of sounds like the amalgam of stuff that could very well comprise the Spam itself!)
Admittedly, it’s been quite a while since I tasted the processed mystery meat that has become so ingrained in American pop culture. As luck would have it, I wound up parking behind a car emblazoned with an “I [heart] Spam” bumper sticker as I headed over to Ted’s to try the thing. The stuff always creeped me out as a kid, what with its glistening gelatinous coating when coming straight out of the can. Yet I took the vehicular endorsement as a sign, encouraging me onward.
On first bite, the Spam is barely detectable, overpowered by the sweetness of the pineapple and juicy meatiness of the beef. But additional chews reveal a subtle layer of saltiness akin to a hot dog or vienna sausage. I can’t say this ranks among my most transcendent burger experiences. Maybe it needs more Spam.
Ted’s is not the first place in town to marry red meat and the Hormel product. The Front Page, for one, has a similar burger on its menu called the “Special Edition,” also served with pineapple and fried spam, but spruced up with provolone and a sweet chile sauce.
But Ted’s takes its Spam fetish a step farther. You can now order a plate of the stuff à la carte, or in your morning corned beef hash.
The burger may derive its name from the fictional 1970s detective series starring Jack Lord, but the wider use of the stuff at Ted’s recalls the famous sketch on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” where virtually everything on the restaurant’s menu has Spam in it and the patrons break out in song about it.
I reached out to a rep for the restaurant, inquiring as to which obvious Python fan was responsible for incorporating so much Spam into the menu. Her reply:
Ultimately, Executive Chef Eric Brannon is responsible for the creation and execution of the new additions. However, anytime the menu changes, the owners and chef sit down around the “pickle bucket” to hear everyone’s ideas. With the theme of the restaurant being fun takes on classic American cuisine, whether it be pastries (pop-tarts, twinkies, sno-balls) or entrees like Shake-N-Bake Chicken and the Hawaii Five-0 Burger featuring SPAM, it was just simply an amusing, light-hearted, quirky addition meant to give diners the option of ordering something iconic from the era that the décor of the restaurant reflects….PS Love Monty Python, definitely loved SPAMALOT
Photo by Chris Shott, video courtesy of YouTube