Canned Luncheon Meat: Sealed Taste Memories

The source of canned lunch meat is in the United Kingdom and the United States. Luncheon meat is the translation of the English “Luncheon meats”. In the United Kingdom and the United States, it refers to cold cuts of meat used in cold cuts such as cocktail parties and cold dinner parties, such as various sausages, hams, meat rolls, bacon, barbecue, aspic, etc. . At the end of the 19th century, in response to market needs, especially for long-distance transportation and long-term preservation, canned fresh beef appeared in the United Kingdom, and canned spiced ham appeared in the United States. Because it is mostly used for cold cuts, it is also called “luncheon meat” by some businesses. However, at that time, these cans were mostly in large packages, 6 pounds (2.72 kg) per can, mainly sold by wholesalers to various retail food stores for refrigeration, and the stores then sliced ​​and sold them to customers according to specific needs.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Hormel Spiced Ham, a cheap shredded pork shoulder and processed with salt, water, sugar and sodium nitrite, had the advantage of being a 12-ounce can ( 336g) small package, suitable for one-time household use, and does not require refrigeration. Later in 1937, a little ham was added and the name was changed to SPAM (Shoulder of pork and Ham).

What really made lunch meat popular was World War II. This well-preserved, inexpensive canned food is procured in bulk and distributed to the military, who often eat fried and grilled luncheon meat three times a day, and many people are fed up with them. Despite this, it spread to all parts of the Eurasian continent with the US military during World War II, and was also transported to the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and other places as military supplies to aid the Allied forces. The U.S. military also introduced luncheon meat to Hawaii and the Philippines, and the locals are still popular with luncheon meat rice balls. Luncheon meat produced in the United States was also introduced to Shanghai and other places before and after World War II. At that time, Kuomintang soldiers were also fortunate to eat this foreign food.

It was very late in China to produce its own luncheon meat. In 1957, the Shanghai Meilin Canning Factory (then named Shanghai Yimin No. 2 Food Factory) produced the first can of luncheon meat. Speaking of which, “Meilin” is one of the earliest canning factories in China. In the spring of 1929, Shi Yongxi, Dai Xingshui and several other young Chinese western chefs raised hundreds of yuan to buy a soil stove, a steamer and some simple tools, and put them on Lanwei Ai Road (now Zhaozhou Lude in Luwan District) in the French Concession. A Shikumen hut at No. 13, Lane 78, Xiangli, is trial-producing spicy soy sauce, jam, tomato sauce and other western food accompaniments. In July 1930, Shanghai Meilin Canned Food Factory was formally established – the Meilin brand has a foreign flavor, which is transliterated from the Roman word “MALING” – and launched the first bottle of canned tomato sauce produced by the Chinese, mainly for supplying The most common western restaurant in Shanghai. Subsequently, bottled foods such as spicy sauce, jam, and green beans were successively developed, which were cheap and high-quality, breaking the situation that imported foreign goods dominated the world.

Three years later, a number of western food vendors in Shanghai joined the investment and jointly established Shanghai Meilin Canned Food Factory Co., Ltd., purchased a large number of foreign machines in Hongqiao, hired Lithuanian experts as engineers, produced products according to international standards, and later replaced imports. The large market share of canned food made it the most famous canned food brand in Shanghai and even the whole country at that time, and it was also exported to the United States, Southeast Asia and other places. Meilin has also developed canned food such as braised pork, braised beef, braised chicken, braised bamboo shoots, four fresh roasted bran, spiced grass sparrow, anchovies and other canned foods for domestic tastes. Canned cucumbers have been exported to the Soviet Union, Poland, Czech Republic and other socialist countries. In 1954, canned oranges in sugar water were also exported to the British Isles.

The popularity of luncheon meat in China is taught by the Czechs. In 1957, Czech food expert Schanil went to Shanghai Merlin Canning Factory to instruct the production of the first can of luncheon meat. After more than 20 years, it was mainly exported to Eastern Europe, Hong Kong and Macao and other places as well as to supply military supplies. Local people had to rely on the relationship approval to buy. It was not until the 1980s that canned luncheon meat, a food originating from Europe, entered China’s urban and rural areas on a large scale, and it became one of the most famous and attractive canned foods in the following two decades.