Catching up with our brothers and sisters of the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society
Promoting a shared love of meat, chips and acceptance.
Back in December of last year we introduced readers to our new favourite private Facebook group - Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society (HSPAS). At the time it was a few hundred mates bonding over a shared love of meat, chips and sauce around the Sydney area, sharing reviews and experiences at various kebab shops around the place. Since then though the HSPAS has seen massive expansion - at the time of writing the group has clocked over 32K members from all over Australia and the world. It's been featured on news sites and been the sauce (hur hur) of some controversy given racist ignorance tends to congrengrate most on the Facebook walls of news publishers, all the while growing its member's waistlines and hopefully adding to a fair increase in trade for kebab store owners around the globe (plus a ridiculous increase in the number of HSP-related memes).
We reached out to the page moderators to find out how life's been in this bold new HSPAS world, how they're managing the hype, and what they want to see the HSPAS become.
Hey guys, so when we first started chatting the group hadn’t even cracked 2000 members, and now you’re racing toward 35,000 – hectic! What are some of the main things you put down to this growth?
The best thing about this group has been the sense of community and quality banter. Those two things have been the driving force in the growth of our group. Of course we can’t forget about the delicious HSPs that started everything, it's awesome to see that a few months in people are devouring more snack packs then ever. We love it!
A quick glance through the group reveals plenty of tasty-looking snack packs, but also a lot of heated discussion over what constitutes a true HSP, what is halal and what is haram etc. Why such a strict set of guidelines and how difficult is it to enforce them as the group continues to grow?
When we started the group we laid down a few guidelines to what a HSP was; meat, chips and sauce. The HSP community have really been the ones to decide what is halal and what is haram, for example there was a post a few weeks ago about some ‘blonde aussie dingo’ that asked for tomato sauce on her HSP, poor girl was roasted into oblivion and in effect tomato sauce is now a super taboo condiment to add to your HSP. We don’t want to discourage people from experimenting with their HSPs but at the end of the day you run the risk of getting absolutely roasted (Check the full list of official rules HERE).
In its short existence, what have been some of the highlights?
Seeing HSPAS go worldwide has been great. One of our members was traveling around Japan, every few days he would update the group on his quest to find a HSP. Sadly the closest option he could find was halal shaved meat with sauce and rice. Shout outs Ellis, hope you can finally dig into a real HSP when you land back in Australia.
Halal meat has been a touchy subject in Australia in the past, and I know the group has copped its fair share of criticism from certain, shall we say 'lesser' elements, what’s the message you’re trying to convey in HSPAS?
The most important thing to remember is that HSPAS is a group dedicated to sharing the love of food, the circumstances relevant to the political or social affiliations of the food is something that is aware to us, but we don't preach any political message with the group. That being said, we do recognise the importance of Halal Certification as we are respecting and appreciating the cultural practices that are common amongst business owners of Kebab shops. Halal food ensures that Muslims can safely consume food without compromising their religious practices. There is no problem with people of non-Islamic faith consuming Halal-certified meat, and we feel that Halal Snack Packs bring together people of all ethnic backgrounds and religious faith, and often HSPAS can serve as positive dialect in a current time and political climate that can quite often breed the opposite.
How have the proprietors of kebab shops around Sydney (and everywhere) taken to the group?
Really well. We have had many different owners/employees of the kebab shops join the group. The group being a place where people can provide instant and up-to-date reviews have allowed owners to see if their Halal Snack Pack game is up to par with the others. Members and consumers have been very honest, sometimes brutal, about their review. We believe that this has been a very good instrument for owners as they will be able to interact directly with people eating their products. Overall, we're here support the small kebab shop owners. We encourage them to join and contribute to the community by not only giving us deals or promotions but making the sickest Halal Snack Pack.
You guys have begun organizing regular moderator meetings – is that correct?
Well we are all friends that hangout but you could say that yes... probably not as regularly as we’d like to though.
What’s the purpose of them (Besides another excuse to indulge in some HSP goodness amongst friends)?
We have been working hard behind the scenes to make HSPAS bigger and better. There’s a lot we have planned, but we don’t want to give away too much so stay tuned ;).
Australia has always had a culture of drunken buffoonery, particularly stumbling into kebab shops at 4 in the morning - do you feel groups like the HSPAS are helping to shape that stigma into something more positive?
I definitely feel as though HSPAS has a positive impact shaping the stigma of a 4am greasy feed into something a little more than that. We have witnessed countless scenarios of people becoming friends upon realising they are both in HSPAS and hunting a tasty snack pack after a night out. I like to think the owners of these small businesses see it as a positive rather than a negative and we also think the people stumbling into kebab shops at 4am these days are all being a little bit more respectful to the shop owners due to wanting a delicious and nourishing Halal Snack Pack. Eating after a big night clearly sobers you up as well and we think it is fucking ridiculous how the government are trying to enforce a lockout on food stores, putting small businesses out of pocket and depriving intoxicated people of food.
What’s next for the HSPAS, it seems like it won’t be long before member numbers are racing up towards the hundreds of thousands?
Realistically, the main thing we would like to see happen from this page is universal HSP awareness + improvement. HSP’s have been around for such a long time but it seems HSPAS has begun spreading the good word worldwide. As well as seeing HSPs improve and become more widely available, we are also enjoying seeing people of all race/religion come together in unity embracing a true love for HSPs. It would be ideal to see this happen worldwide and result in world peace.
Thanks for your time, and looking forward to watching the mighty HSPAS grow!
Thanks for YOUR time and support from the early days of HSPAS. Looking forward to our next catch up!
You can get around the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society HERE and leave you with this slice of fried gold:
You can also follow the HSPAS on INSTAGRAM.