In its October issue, Saveur magazine remembered the man who brought Spam to Hawai’i, in a piece by James Sturz titled, "Island of Spam."
Spam means something to everyone, but it may have meant the most to Les Gamble. In 1950, the former PT boat captain and war hero from South Dakota started a Honolulu-based food brokerage firm that was the exclusive sales agent for Spam in Hawai’i. Under his influence, the pudgy pink brick became lodged in the stomachs, and the hearts, of the Pacific Islanders. When Gamble died on the Big Island on Jan. 12, at age 87, his legacy included seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and an annual consumption by Hawaiians of 6.9 million cans of Spam. That’s five-and-a-half cans for every man, woman and child. …
On Feb. 4, about 80 members of Gamble’s family gathered at Christ Church Episcopal in Kealakekua, in South Kona, to say good-bye and bury his ashes. … Gamble’s eldest son, Hoagy, who took over the food brokerage empire after Gamble retired in 1988, spoke: "In the industry, [Dad] was known as the person who established Spam in Hawai’i, and he was very proud of the fact that Hawai’i sold more Spam than anywhere in the country. He was so proud, in fact, that he went out and got vanity license plates that said SPAM. But they weren’t on a Mercedes. They were on an old Ford. And on that Ford, they were still there after 10 years. Dad had his priorities straight."