The Origins of:
7-Eleven Hawaii's Spam® Katsu Musubi
Edna Ching | August 19 , 2020
At 7-Eleven Hawaii, the Spam® Katsu musubi is ranked as the fourth top selling musubi. And while it continues to be a popular item among its customers, there is very little known about its origins. Curious minds wanted to know, so we asked Mr. Koji Mori. He is one of the best food historians for 7-Eleven Hawaii as he once headed its commissary, Warabeya USA.
When asked about the birth of the Spam® Katsu Musubi, Mr. Mori said he was the creator of this now ubiquitous one-handed meal. However, it was never intended to be sold in stores. It was just a lunch experiment. One day (around the end of 1995), he was craving for Ham Katsu, a menu item that was popular in Japan at the time. Instead of using the traditional thinly sliced ham, he decided to dip a slice of Spam® in batter, cover it with panko, deep fry it to a golden brown and then place it on top of block of seasoned rice with a band of nori.
As Mr. Mori was enjoying his lunch, the 7-Eleven Hawaii Merchandising Manager was curious about what he was eating. He explained what he had made and never thought anything of the conversation. A few months after, Mr. Mori had to return to the Japan corporate office. Shortly thereafter, 7-Eleven Hawaii introduced the Spam® Katsu musubi to its customers. It was an instant hit. Keeping up with the demand was challenging as every slice of Spam® Katsu had to be individually battered, dipped in Panko and then fried. Additionally, each musubi had to be hand wrapped. The success was certainly unexpected and is still going strong almost a quarter of a century later.
While he currently resides in Japan to help with Warabeya’s international operations, he did return to Warabeya USA serving as President for nearly two decades. He said that he was happy with the success of his Spam® Katsu musubi. However, he has helped create many more items that are equally or even more successful. Mr. Mori was responsible for the development of the Deluxe Spam® musubi, Teriyaki Spam® musubi, the Jumbo Musubi concept, the Ham Sweet Bread Sandwich and many more! When asked, which is his favorite Spam® musubi. His all-time favorite is not the Katsu, but the Deluxe that has egg and furikake.