Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Other Spam

We all get spam. It comes in various forms: via email, instant messaging, in discussion groups, in online classified ads, In the year 2011, the estimated figure for spam messages is around seven trillion.

But there is another spam: the original mystery meat in a can made by Hormel. It's actuality a blend of chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added.

According to the official website timeline, SPAM® originated in 1937 and in 1940 unveiled the first singing commercial with the catchy "...Hormel's new miracle meat in a can. Tastes fine, saves time, If you want something grand, ask for SPAM®."

In the time of the U.S. military occupation in the South Pacific, during World War II, fresh meat was difficult to get to the soldiers on the front. 100 million pounds of SPAM® was shipped to feed the troups between 1941 and 1945. GIs ate SPAM® for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Some soldiers referred to it as "ham that didn't pass its physical" and "meatloaf without basic training".)

It is reported that 3.8 cans are consumed every second in the United States today. SPAM® is sold in 41 countries, on six continents and trademarked in over 100 different countries. Still popular in the South Pacific to this day, the island of Saipan have the only McDonald's restaurants that feature the canned meat on the menu. It is so popular in Hawaii, it has been dubbed "The Hawaiian Steak".

So why are unwanted internet messages called ‘spam’? One report says that it may have come from a comedy act. In 1970, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the legendary British comedy troupe, performed a skit involving a group of Vikings at a restaurant where one ingredient was prominently featured. The cook and Vikings repeat the word loudly and seemingly nonstop, with the Vikings singing it like a song chorus. According to a decision written by the California appellate court: “Thus, in the context of the Internet, ‘spam’ has come to symbolize unwanted, and perhaps annoying, repetitious behavior that drowns out ordinary discourse.”

And now you know. Pa-dum.


  1. Love it! (the post, not spam) The question remains though, do you like spam-in-a-can?

  2. Thanks Patricia! Every New Year's Eve my mother would make these stuffed rolls using canned meat. On New Year's Day I still have a craving for them decades later.