For the most part, there’s really no need to explain the Hawai’i Local food staple. The popular inexpensive and portable Local Style cuisine which surely originated in Hawai’i is now known throughout much of the mainland U.S. and in many foreign countries.
This “ono-licious” composition containing a slice of grilled Spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped together with nori dried seaweed makes for the perfect on-the-go meal. Spam musubi as we know it today derived from the traditions of Japanese omusubi; onigiri or rice ball. The Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular or cylinder shapes and often wrapped in nori (seaweed). Onigiri is filled with pickled/salted ume (plum), salted salmon, or other salty or sour natural preserved ingredients.
Sometime in the early 1980’s a Kauai woman named Barbara Funamura created the Spam musubi. A nutritionist and entrepreneur, Barbara Funamura had no idea how popular her simple creation would become. The first Spam musubi was triangular, a typical onigiri shape. As time passed, Spam musubi were made using a box, morphing it into its now familiar rectangular shape; the shape of sliced Spam.
The simple yet delightful snack/meal sold well at the Joni-Hana restaurant at Kukui Grove Center in Lihue where Barbara worked. At first, some people laughed, but within a year the Spam musubi was being served throughout the Hawaiian Islands eventually making it’s way to the mainlands West Coast.
The evolving Spam musubi now contains various additions such as scrambbled egg. An Expansion of the Spam musubi involve replacing the Spam completely with Hawaii’s favorite red hot dogs, shrimp and even crab meat.
On May 12, 2016 78 year old Barbara Funamura passed away at her Koloa, Kauai home. Rest in Love to the creator of Spam musubi. Her creation will continue to bring joy to Hawaii Locals and adventurous mainlander’s with good taste for generations to come. Aloha ‘Oe.