The Experiment Podcast: Uncle SPAM

During World War II, the American dream was exported across the world, one SPAM can at a time.

An illustrated war plane drops slices of SPAM, the canned meat, across a patriotic, star-spangled sky.
Adam Maida

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During World War II, wherever American troops spread democracy, they left the canned meat known as SPAM in its wake. When American GIs landed overseas, they often tossed cans of SPAM out of trucks to the hungry people they sought to liberate. That’s how producer Gabrielle Berbey’s grandfather first came to know and love SPAM as a kid in the Philippines. But 80 years later, SPAM no longer feels American. It is now a staple Filipino food: a  beloved emblem of Filipino identity. Gabrielle sets out on a journey to understand how SPAM made its way into the hearts of generations of Pacific Islanders, and ends up opening a SPAM can of worms.

This episode is the first in a new three-part miniseries from The Experiment—SPAM: How the American Dream Got Canned.”

A transcript of this episode will soon be made available. Please check back.


Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

This episode was produced by Gabrielle Berbey and Julia Longoria with help from Peter Bresnan and Alina Kulman. Editing by Kelly Prime, with help from Emily Botein, Jenny Lawton, Scott Stossel, and Katherine Wells. Fact-check by William Brennan and Michelle Ciarrocca. Sound design by David Herman with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Transcription by Caleb Codding.

This episode was produced by Gabrielle Berbey and Julia Longoria with help from Peter Bresnan and Alina Kulman. Editing by Kelly Prime, with help from Emily Botein, Jenny Lawton, Scott Stossel, and Katherine Wells. Fact-check by William Brennan and Michelle Ciarrocca. Sound design by David Herman with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Transcription by Caleb Codding.


Music by Parish Council (“A Painting of a Frog” and “The Grey Around It”), Keyboard (“More Shingles”), Ob (“Mog”), and Laurie Bird (“Jussa Trip”) provided by Tasty Morsels. Additional music by Alexander Overington. Additional audio from U.S. National Archives, Paramount News, gilbertoy69, PublicDomainFootage. Special thanks to Noella Levy and Craig Santos Perez.


A transcript of this episode is presented below:

(A pan sizzles.)

Julia Longoria: I’m Julia Longoria; you’re listening to The Experiment.

Gabrielle Berbey: That looks really good!

Lola: Yeah.

Longoria: And, we’re going to start things off with producer Gabrielle Berbey and her grandma ...

Berbey: Wait, Lola, what are you doing here?

Longoria: … Her Lola …

Lola: Ah, I’m making scrambled eggs so we can mix it with the fried rice.

Longoria: … Making a typical Filipino dish.

Lola: I want to make it the brownish, so I’m sautéing it.

Berbey: Oh my god. This smells so good.

Lola: Well, it smells like SPAM! [Both laugh brightly.]

Berbey: The typical Filipino dish? It’s SPAM! You know—the all-American mystery meat that comes in a blue-and-yellow can.

Lola: Can you see the oil coming up from the SPAM?

Berbey: Wait, you didn’t put any oil in this pan?

Lola: No, I didn’t put! It’s so fatty. [Both chuckle.]

Berbey: This salty, fatty, delicious American icon?

(A rolling hand-played percussion and string duet move with purpose under the dialogue. The occasional synthetic rainmaker punctuates each line of the song.)

Lola: It’s, uh, considered one of our … delicacy.

Berbey: We put it on Filipino bread.

Lola: You can put it in the pan de sal … We have SPAM tocino … SPAM adobo … Caldereta … [Fades out.]

Berbey: It’s a staple in many Filipino dishes.

Berbey’s Mom: I mean, I introduced it to you guys, but we weren’t eating it every day. Um …

Berbey: And my mom would only bring it out for special occasions.

Berbey: Like birthdays?

Mom: Lazy Sundays, you know, when we’re not so hurried.

Lola: Yeah!

Berbey: Good grades.

Mom: Okay, it reminds you of home.

(A beat for music.)

Mom: I think that’s what it is. You know, SPAM reminds you of home.

Berbey: Is that home in the Philippines, or home—home in America?

Mom: No, home in the Philippines.

Berbey: SPAM really feels like it’s ours—like, it should be on the FIlipino flag or something.

Lola: Because all the Filipinos love SPAM.

(The music echoes, reverberates, dissolves to nothing.)

(Noella Levy says, “Okay!” Her ukulele plays over a light speaker crackle.)

Berbey: And as I started looking into why, I found out that it’s not just Filipinos who feel this way.

(Levy sings, “One, two, three, SPAM musubi! Four, five, six, don’t need chopsticks!” over ukulele.)

Berbey: SPAM musubi—basically SPAM sushi—is a dish that people from Hawaii, like this ukulele performer Noella, claim as a local delicacy.

Craig Santos Perez: Guam is considered the SPAM capital of the world.

Berbey: And nearly 4,000 miles away, on the island of Guam, people eat more SPAM per capita than anywhere in the world.

(The ukulele stops, birds trill, and atmospheric, New Age music plays, as if for a meditation.)

Santos Perez: There is no path to SPAM. SPAM is the path.

Berbey: I even found a Guamanian poet, Craig Santos Perez, who writes meditations on SPAM.

Santos Perez: I imagine that there was a great drought …

Berbey: He invented an origin story of SPAM as a Guamanian mythology …

Santos Perez: One of our traditional healers started weeping to the ground and from her tears sprouted these hard nuts, and they saw this gelatinous meat inside.

Berbey: … Where it came from the land and from the indigenous Chamorros.

Santos Perez: And they were fed, generation upon generation.

(The music cuts out.)

Santos Perez: ... Until the Americans came.

Berbey: Until the Americans came!

Santos Perez: And decided to can.

Berbey: To can all of it! [Both chuckle.]

(New music comes in: bouncy, percussive, resonant, up and down in a soft staccato.)

Longoria: This week, producer Gabrielle Berbey asks a pretty simple question: Why is SPAM, this All-American food that was originally slaughtered and packaged in the heartland—why does it feel so distinctly Filipino—like it belongs to the Philippines, and to Guam, and to Hawaii?

Berbey: And I thought that this was going to be like a quirky episode about American food culture. Like, I really thought that that was going to be it.

Longoria: But somehow, she opened a Pandora’s can—a SPAM can o’ worms.

Santos Perez: SPAM itself is this kind of object with all these different meanings attached to it. And each person and each culture brings our own memories and emotions and feelings.

Voice: There were signs all over town: “Cram your SPAM!” Like, “Shove it up your anus!”

Berbey: I did not realize how much people have wrestled with this can of meat.

Longoria: And for the next three weeks on The Experiment, we travel far beyond Filipino kitchens, around the world and back in time to some of the most fundamental arguments we’ve had as Americans—of how we should work for the food that we put on our tables.

(The music plays up.)

Longoria: I’m Julia Longoria. This is The Experiment, a show about our unfinished country.

(With a hum and a drone, the music dissolves into nothing.)

Longoria: But first: How did SPAM get to the Philippines?

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: [Over dramatic music.] December 7, 1941.

Berbey: The story starts on a horrific day in U.S. history.

President Roosevelt: [Still over dramatic music.] A date which will live in infamy.

Berbey: Hours after bombing Pearl Harbor, Japanese troops bombed Manila, which is the capital of the Philippines, where my family is from.

Old News Announcer 1: [Over more dramatic music.] Manila has just been bombed. Manila has just been bombed.

Old News Announcer 2: There was a merciless attack upon the people who had been taught the American way of life and freedom.

Berbey: And what happened next, when my grandfather was about 10 years old, is a story he would tell over and over again throughout the course of his life. My mom and my Lola remember it …

Lola: I remember him, on the bed, telling the story to the kids, and they are all on the floor.

Mom: My dad told me that, uh, during World War II, he was a young boy and, um …

(Soft music comes in, reflective and open like a pool of water in a cool void.)

Berbey: After the Japanese troops invaded the Philippines, they began committing war crimes. They were killing Filipinos. They were raping women. That’s when my grandfather and his family had to flee their home to the mountains to hide from the Japanese—living in fear, always ready to run at a moment’s notice, trying to avoid the Japanese army. And this went on for more than three years.

(Patriotic American marching-band music replaces the reflective music.)

Berbey: But in 1945, American troops landed. And my Lolo saw these big military trucks with American flags rolling through the dusty roads of the provinces ...

(All over dramatic, old-timey music.)

Old News Announcer 1: But now, fulfilling his pledge to the Filipino people, General Douglas MacArthur has returned. [Fades under.]

Old News Announcer 2: Crowds wildly welcome MacArthur and their freedom. They have starved and suffered but lived!

Berbey: I picture him really little and, like, sprinting toward these big military trucks, and the American GIs would throw food to the kids that were chasing them. But my Lolo remembers them throwing cans of SPAM.

(Over the sound of cheering and sustained applause.)

Mom: … Because they would exchange cans of SPAM for fresh eggs. And bring dozens of eggs to the American GIs, and he’d get, you know, a lot of SPAM.

Berbey: For him, these cans of SPAM and these, like, kind of foods that American soldiers had? This was, like, the gifts from the saviors.

News Reporter: Food. At last time, two days of starvation—relief for all those in sight.

Berbey: Like, this was … freedom.

(The breathy run of a synthesizer slides into a low note, a virtual windchime cascading down.)

Berbey: After my Lolo caught his first can of SPAM, he fell in love with the idea of American freedom. For him, SPAM meant opportunity: a hope that something better is coming. It became his mission in life to move his family, eventually, to the U.S.

His son—my uncle—was the first person in my family to immigrate here, and he would send care packages back to my family in the Philippines,that we called balikbayan boxes, full of SPAM. My Lola remembers opening the boxes, seeing the blue-and-yellow can, thinking, “We’ll be together soon—in America!” For us, SPAM is a symbol of love. It’s a way of saying, “I’m thinking about you.”

(Tinny electronic music plays at a frenetic tempo.)

Berbey: And it turns out, a similar pattern played out all over the world.

Berbey: Hello?

Food Historian 1: Hello? Can you hear me?

Berbey: Hi. I think we lost connection, sorry.

Historian 3: Hey Gabrielle. Sorry. I, like—I’m in grading-papers mode and, like, totally lost track of time.

Berbey: I made some calls to food historians.

HIstorian 3: The largest numbers of SPAM dispersal happened during the second phase of the Pacific theater.

Historian 2: Places like Guam, Hawaii, Philippines … [Fades out.]

Berbey: And they told me that, wherever there was an American military presence, SPAM was left in its wake.

Historian 2: It’s a kind of … Almost like an informal way to spread American democracy.

Berbey: But I also wanted to know: Why did it stay?

Berbey: Because it’s one thing for American GIs to bring it in, have it be part of their food rations, and sometimes give it away—but then it becomes this staple. How does that happen?

Historian 3: I’m not sure. I was trying to research it before we spoke. And I was, like, literally looking through, like, historical documents.

Historian 2: There hasn’t been enough history done of it.

Berbey: No one could answer my question.

Historian 3: I—I can’t give you the historical answer.

(The old music fades, gone, then a bluesy lo-fi flourish plays as Berbey speaks.)

Berbey: So, the next logical step was to go straight to the source: To a town called Austin. Not Austin, Texas! Austin, Minnesota: SPAMtown USA.

Longoria: Gabrielle and I journey to the birthplace of SPAM after the break.

(Over the sound of clinking plates.)

Berbey: That kind of looks like SPAM.

Longoria: Yeah, right?

Berbey: It looks like a SPAM can!

(Midroll.)

(An airplane passes by overhead.)

Longoria: On a hot August afternoon, we stepped off the plane in Minneapolis into the scorching sun and began our two-hour drive south.

Berbey: This is … It is beautiful! Like, it looks like a painting. With the corn and the clouds, the sky is like a soft blue …

Longoria: Through cornfields …

Berbey: This road feels like it goes forever!

Longoria: Tons of cornfields …

Berbey: Yeah, I think this is, in fact, like, the middle of the country. This is—this is—

Longoria: To Austin, Minnesota: the birthplace of SPAM.

(The orchestral stylings of a mid-century sitcom play, upbeat and wholesome, led by a brass-line melody.)

Berbey: Look at all the nice porches!

Longoria: Driving around certain parts of SPAMtown, it feels driving onto a Leave It to Beaver set from the 1950s.

Longoria: There’s, like, a seafoam-green house, church steeple …

Longoria: It’s a mix of farmland, strip malls, suburban single-family homes, and a quaint little downtown.

Berbey: And on the left is this little cabin, and it says, “the AmericInn.”

Longoria: Our hotel, the AmericInn, felt like a ski lodge.

Berbey: This looks like a living room with family photos on the​​ wall.

Longoria: In the corner, next to the front desk …

Berbey: It says “George and Lillian Hormel.”

Longoria: … There are all of these old family portraits of the Hormel family.

Berbey: The photos of the creators of SPAM are here. But then when I look at these white men and long coats and bowler hats in this sepia-toned photograph in this, like, American town, I’m like, “How did their SPAM come to the Philippines and become my SPAM?” These are not my ancestors! [Laughs.]

Berbey: And right away, at the hotel breakfast, it became clear that SPAM is the main attraction of Austin.

Hotel Guest 1: Our parents all ate SPAM.

John Dobbs: Yeah.

Berbey: Where are you guys all from?

Hotel Guest 1: Michigan.

Hotel Guest 2: And I live in Florida now.

Dobbs: Fargo, North Dakota. And darn proud of it, too, I might add.

Berbey: People from all over the world travel here to visit the famous SPAM Museum.

Dobbs: It was used heavily by the troops.

Berbey: The North Dakotan that we met at breakfast said that he served in the military. He worked in the kitchens, where he cooked SPAM.

Hotel Guest 1: Do you think that was where my dad got his taste for it?

Berbey: The woman from Florida said that her father first was introduced to it during World War II.

Hotel Guest 2: Um, he was all over the Pacific.

Berbey: Oh, yeah. Well, it’s funny that you say that your dad … [Fades under.]

Berbey: So of course, I told her about my grandfather.

Berbey: … Because American GIs would throw cans of SPAM at …

Hotel Guests: Oh cool!

Berbey: —At the kids.

Hotel Guest 2: That’s why the GIs would have—they were fed it a lot. And I think that’s why they had a distaste for it, ’cause they … It was, like, pushed at them all the time.

Berbey: I was actually so surprised to hear that her father didn’t like my Lolo’s beloved SPAM.

Hotel Guest 2: There was a lot of, maybe ugly memories associated with it because it brought back memories of the war.

Dobbs: Yeah.

Berbey: For her dad, it was something that was probably tied to probably one of the hardest and most violent moments of his life.

Hotel Guest 2: Yeah, and—and that—that part was hard.

Berbey: Whereas—whereas for, like, my grandpa, for him getting …

Hotel Guest 2: It was a good memory.

Berbey: It was a good memory!

Hotel Guest 1: Well, it makes me feel good, then, that we … [Fades out.]

(A flute-driven orchestration plays, lush but distant, as if through a gramophone.)

Longoria: Next, we went back downtown, where we were faced with a vision in blue.

Berbey: That kind of looks like SPAM.

Longoria: Yeah.

Berbey: It kinda looks like a SPAM can.

Longoria: It does. And the yellow letters.

(The two continue to talk indistinctly under narration.)

Berbey: We arrived at the SPAM Museum: a SPAM-shaped building in the center of downtown Austin.

Berbey: I want to find out how SPAM became a staple … food in places like the Philippines.

Berbey: We’re entering … the SPAM Museum!

Berbey: It has a distinct Willy Wonka vibe.

Berbey: [Over the sound of a conveyor belt.] Julia. The SPAM line!

Berbey: Hovering above your head is this SPAM production line with these, like, brightly colored SPAM cans chugging along the conveyor belt.

Savile Lord: Hi, I’m Savile! Savile Lord.

Berbey: Hi, I’m Gabrielle!

Lord: Gabrielle! Nice to meet you.

Berbey: Nice to meet you.

Berbey: And we were immediately greeted by the woman who runs the museum.

Lord: I’m the SPAManager.

Berbey: Saville Lord, the SPAManager.

Lord: Yes! So everything with SPAM we make, we have fun with. We have SPAMbassadors who, um, help us here out the museum. We have about 20 of them. And I’m the SPAMmanager. Uh, and then we, um, really encourage people when they leave the museum, to have a SPAMtastic day. Um, we—we serve SPAMples, which are just a little piece of SPAM on a pretzel.

Berbey: SPAMples!

Lord: SPAMples. So it’s really very nice. And so what I thought I could do is show you the SPAM ballet.

(Can-can music plays.)

Longoria: They play literal footage from the meatpacking plant with forklifts carrying hundreds and hundreds of SPAM cans—all set to a ballet. You forget that this is all taking place at a slaughterhouse.

Lord: It is several miles’ worth of cans. And that is going into that six-story pressure cooker.

Berbey: When you’re in the factory, does it feel, like, dizzying like this? Like SPAM just flying around?

Lord: No, doesn’t go quite as fast, but it’s a lot of SPAM. It is a lot of SPAM.

(The can-can ends to great fanfare.)

Berbey: SPAManager Savile told us the history of this magical meat.

(Breathy electronic music plays, slipping between staccato notes in rapid succession.)

Lord: So SPAM was originally about the length of a loaf of bread.

Berbey: [With laughter in her voice.] Oh, that’s huge! Oh my god.

Lord: So that’s a luncheon loaf. Yeah! So you would serve four or five people, the average size of a family, and you wouldn’t have to worry about refrigeration.

Berbey: Behind all the whimsy, SPAM was born out of a really dark time. It was created in 1937, during the Great Depression. The country was struggling: Families needed cheap food, workers needed jobs, and companies were losing money. But the Hormel Company came up with a clever way to avoid laying off its workers. They invented a new, cheap product that would create more work and bring in more revenue. From the parts of the pig that were normally tossed out, they created a salty, fatty source of protein: Spiced Ham, or SPAM.

(The electronic music expands, a full suite of instrumentation now. After a moment, it fades under and out.)

Berbey: And then a few years later, World War II hit, and SPAM spread all over the world. It wasn’t the healthiest thing to send with the soldiers, but it preserved well and was packed with calories.

Lord: There’s a lot of people over there. Why don’t we head over into the Philippines and then we can head back over there so it’s not too loud?

Berbey: So then she took us around the corner …

Lord: This is our international area.

Berbey: There were booths all over the museum dedicated to South Korea, Hawaii, Latin America, Japan, China …

Berbey: Can I look at the Philippines one?

Lord: Absolutely, go right ahead!

Berbey: And there was this whole booth in the museum dedicated to the Philippines!

Berbey: Oh, yeah, the balikbayan box. How do you guys know what that is?

Lord: Oh, we definitely know what the balikbayan box is. And for those of you who don’t know what the balikbayan box is, it is a gift box that people—usually in the United States—would send home to their families.

Berbey: Those care packages my uncle would lovingly fill with SPAM and send back to my Lola in the Philippines? Here they were on display … in a museum exhibit!

Longoria: I wonder—how did the company come to know about the way it was used in this way? It’s almost like you need a food anthropologist to, like …

Lord: We have a food anthropologist on staff here!

Berbey: Oh, you do?

Lord: We absolutely do. Yeah!

Berbey: What do they … [Laughter as the conversation fades out.]

Berbey: The fact that Filipinos love SPAM so much felt like Filipino insider baseball to me. But the SPAM Museum made clear: All along, SPAM loved us back.

Berbey: It says, uh, as a token of our love for the Philippines, we have created a special Filipino flavor, SPAM Tocino. [Fading under.] Introduced in 2014.

Berbey: So, for decades after American GIs packed up and left the Philippines, the company knew that it had captured the hearts of an accidental market, and they worked hard to keep it. They became experts in Filipino culture.

Lord: So there was a boy band called All for SPAM in the Philippines between 2017 and 2018, and all they did was sing about SPAM.

Berbey: [Laughing.] No way. What?!

Berbey: Hormel even created a Filipino boy band—which, Filipinos love boy bands—and they styled it after the Backstreet Boys.

(A song from All for SPAM plays faintly in the background.)

Berbey: All for SPAM: These four boys dressed in all white are part of this—this boy—this boy band, and they just sing about SPAM?

Lord: Yep!

Berbey: Walking around the museum, immersed in the story that Hormel tells about SPAM, it’s easy to fall in love with this product—like my Lolo did.

Berbey: My grandpa would be, like, in tears. [Laughs.] He’d be in tears. Oh my god, I feel emotional. [Inhales sharply.] He’d be so happy to be here!

(Plucky electric guitar, reverberating in the halls of memory, distant, echoing, gentle and mystical.)

Berbey: Forget that it was originally leftover pig parts born of the Great Depression. Forget that American GIs hated SPAM so much, the company kept a hefty file of hate mail from soldiers trashing SPAM. Forget that it was spread all over the world because of war! Here at the museum, SPAM is all color and light, this symbol of opportunity and family.

But today, 80 years after it landed in the Pacific, love for SPAM can be complicated.

Santos Perez: There is no path to SPAM. SPAM is the path.

Berbey: For that Guamanian SPAM poet, Craig Santos Perez …

Santos Perez: Guam is the SPAM capital of the world. On average …

Berbey: … His poetry makes a connection between Guam’s undying love for SPAM …

Santos Perez: The end result can be found in the newspaper’s obituary pages.

Berbey: … And the island’s health crisis, from its dependence on imported canned foods.

I talked to a health clinic in Hawaii that’s actually trying to help local Hawaiians make healthier, homemade versions of SPAM.

Santos Perez: The name itself stands for “specially processed army meat,” “salted pork and more,” “some people are missing.”

(The guitar music moves further and further away, slowly giving way to a windchime.)

Berbey: My Lolo died a few years ago, in part from diabetes complications. And when he was first diagnosed, SPAM was the first food to go. But for him, SPAM could forever do no wrong. In a way, his first can of SPAM was a gelatinous seed that planted the idea of his American Dream. A dream that came true for him in the end. One by one, all his kids immigrated to the U.S., and then brought him here too. And now, here I am. An American.

Santos Perez: [Burps loudly.] Thank you! [Berbey laughs.] Sorry, I always do a burp at the end of that poem. [Berbey laughs even harder.]

(Waves of synthesizer music wash over, then under, Berbey’s narration.)

Berbey: And this is where I thought the story ended. Cased closed. Let’s go home.

But throughout my reporting process, this other thing kept coming up—this thing that had nothing to do with my original question.

But all of these historians I talked to were like, “Well, are you going to talk about the strike?” And, at first, when I heard about it, I was like, “What strike?” And they were like, “Well, you can’t talk about SPAM without talking about the strike.” So when I was in the museum, I asked about it.

Berbey: We also talked to someone who mentioned that there was a—like, a strike at the SPAM factory in the ’80s. Is that something, do you guys have history of that here?

Savile: We don’t talk about the strike here at the museum, no, because that wasn’t directly related to SPAM.

Berbey: Oh, okay. I see, I see.

Berbey: We supposedly had to talk about the strike, but then no one would talk to us about it.

(Ominous phone-ringing plays. As it fades out, a lilting piano tune plays, mysterious and dark.)

Berbey: So I started calling local Austonians.

Voice 1: Hello?

Berbey: Can you hear me okay?

Voice 2: I sure can. Yeah, sounds perfect!

Berbey: Okay! Great, great. Thank you so much for … [Fades out.]

Berbey: So when I say that people don’t talk about the strike, I mean, like, to this day, they don’t talk about this strike.

Voice 3: Oh, you better believe people don’t want to talk about it. There are still people who are not speaking to each other.

Voice 4: It was like the elephant in the room. Nobody really talked about it.

Voice 3: We don’t talk about these things. We don’t talk about things that are difficult or cause pain.

Berbey: The strike tore this town apart.

Voice 5: I knew two brothers who were just fighting and, for many years, did not talk to one another because to cross that picket line was the worst.

Berbey: Families and friendships are torn apart.

Voice 5: They were not speaking and did not speak for years. Parents against children, children against parents.

Berbey: This is a dark stain on the town.

Voice 6: It was horrible.

Voice 7: You can feel the trauma of this strike. It didn’t destroy Austin, but it did change it forever. It is part of the creation myth of that town.

Berbey: You know, if there’s a defining moment for the town, it’s this.

Voice 7: Everybody’s got something ugly in their past that defines them, whether we want it to or not. And there are a lot of things you can say about Batman, but at some point you’re going to have to talk about the Joker.

And I don’t think you can talk about Austin without talking about the Joker, which is this strike.

Longoria: That’s next week on The Experiment.

(An encore of the SPAM musubi song plays: “One, two, three, SPAM musubi! Four, five, six, don’t need chopsticks! Seven, eight, nine, tastes so divine! Ten, let’s do it again!”)

Kelly Prime: This episode of The Experiment was produced by Gabrielle Berbey and Julia Longoria with help from Peter Bresnan and Alina Kulman. Editing by me, Kelly Prime, with help from Emily Botein, Jenny Lawton, Scott Stossel, and Katherine Wells.

Special thanks to Noella Levy for her musical stylings and to the Mauer County Historical Society.

Fact-check by William Brennan and Michelle Ciarrocca. Sound design by David Herman with additional engineering by Joe Plourde.

Music by Tasty Morsels and Alexander Overington.

Our team also includes Natalia Ramirez and Tracie Hunte.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And next week, make sure to listen to part two of our three-part series, “SPAM: How the American Dream got Canned.”

The Experiment is a co-production of The Atlantic and WNYC Studios. Thanks for listening.

(Levy’s song continues, then ends, to Berbey’s laughter and applause.)

Copyright © 2021 The Atlantic and New York Public Radio. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use at www.wnyc.org for further information.