Spam. This potted meat product’s greatest strength is not as a food. No. It has a higher calling—a raison d’être, as it were—as a muse to humorists the world over.

On NPR’s website, Howard Yoon’s essay “Spam: More Than Junk Mail or Junk Meat” curries favor by adding a sidebar that chronicle’s the mother of all Spam jokes: Monty Python’s café sketch in which a couple ponder brekkie options like “Spam, egg, Spam, Spam, bacon and Spam.”

But in his historical/personal essay Yoon gets off a few choice Spam jokes of his own, including some dynamite similes:

Spam is the Paul Giamatti or John C. Reilly of the culinary world, an everyman food that lacks the charisma or looks of a leading ingredient, but consistently makes all other ingredients taste better.

Spam is the Greatest Generation’s version of tofu, a block of protein that can be sliced in patties, diced in cubes, or minced and chopped into fine pieces.

Yoon even manages the unthinkable. In his description of his Korean-born mother’s last-minute family dinners featuring crispy-edged Spam with eggs, kimchee, and rice, he makes Spam sound nostalgically delicious.

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