The McDonald's Breakfast Item You Can Only Get In Hawaii

Even if you're not a die-hard McDonald's fan, it can be pretty fascinating to explore what the fast food chain serves in different states and countries. If you ever find yourself hungry in the Philippines, for example, you can order fried chicken and spaghetti from McDonald's in a pinch, according to the menu. And in McDonald's Italy, hungry customers can order a little bar of parmesan cheese or stuffed, fried olives to snack on with their Happy Meal, per the brand.

Even within the United States, there are regional culinary treasures. Like when McDonald's introduced the lobster roll to its locations like Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut (via Thrillist). But perhaps the tastiest regional menu items are found in Hawaii, where one can order cups of hot saimin, a noodle soup reminiscent of ramen. Hawaii locations also offer haupia pie, a creamy delicacy laced with coconut milk (via 'Ono Hawaiian Recipes). 

And right there on the Hawaii menu, glistening in a combination of glory and pork fat, is the local deluxe breakfast: a hearty dish of rice, eggs, Portuguese sausage, and, most notably, Spam (via McDonald's).

What is the Local Deluxe Breakfast?

The Local Deluxe Breakfast in Hawaii is fairly simple. Heaps of white rice are paired with a pile of scrambled eggs, two slices of Spam, and three pieces of Portuguese sausage. Scaled-down versions are also available: Customers can opt for rice and eggs with Spam, or rice and eggs with sausage, if they're not in the mood for that much meat, per Uber Eats.

The regional twist has been around for a while. McDonald's representatives told the New York Times the chain began offering Spam at its Hawaii locations in 2002. 

By 2017, the combinations of Spam, rice, eggs, and sausage had become popular enough to be served as an all-day breakfast option — not just in the morning — according to local station KHON-TV

According to Honolulu-born food blogger Kathy YL Chan, the McDonald's Spam and sausage are pan-fried, and the meal is served with little packets of soy sauce. Chan also doesn't hesitate to note the dish is her "go-to combo breakfast platter" (via Onolicious Hawaii).

A deep love for Spam

Of course, all of this begs a simple question: Why is Spam such a hit in Hawaii? Why is a product invented in Minnesota so ubiquitous on the islands that it's even gracing McDonald's menus (via TIME)? Spam truly exploded in popularity during the World War II-era in Hawaii. According to SPAM's FAQ page, the product spread to the islands from G.I.s who were supplied with the long-lasting meat.

But the story runs deeper, according to historian Rachel Laudan, who tells Eater that the meat was a way to survive. During the war, Laudan says, the U.S. government restricted fishing operations in Hawaii. (Many players in Hawaii's fishing industry were of Japanese descent, therefore facing a wave of anti-Japanese sentiment from the U.S.) Documents in the Hawaiian Historical Society further verify this history: Researcher Donald M. Schug writes that the war, and government-imposed restrictions, provided a "severe economic setback for much of the fishing industry."

Far from fresh fish, the pork product became a staple in Hawaii, Laudan tells Eater. Spam isn't just a quirky addition to Hawaii's diverse cuisine — it's a historical marker of resilience on the islands. And whether it's due to the flavor, convenience, or cost, Spam doesn't seem to be going anywhere — including at McDonald's.