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I’M NOT ENCOURAGING use of the Internet sewer. Rather, I’m thinking of real Spam, the canned luncheon meat sold around the world and celebrated in a recent Voice of America video, “Spam No Longer Just Luncheon Meat for Sandwiches,” by Elizabeth Lee, VOA, May 31, 2021.
Here are tidbits on Spam, its history, and its international cuisine despite a bad linguistic rap.
Spam Goes to War. As described by Wikipedia, “Spam (stylized as SPAM) is a brand of canned cooked pork made by Hormel Food Corporation. It was introduced by Hormel in 1937 and gained popularity worldwide after its use during World War II.”
VOA’s Elizabeth Lee notes, “The global impact of this luncheon meat started during the second World War when the U.S. shipped more than 45 million kgs [50,000 tons] abroad to feed Allied troops.”
Spam Worldwide. Spam’s popularity, especially in Asia, keeps growing. And Lee observes, “… 2020 was the sixth consecutive year where Spam saw record sales in the U.S.”
Lee visited Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe, a Los Angeles restaurant that originally had two Spam offerings on its menu. I’ll bet one was a favorite of mine: Spam Musubi, teriyaki-sauced Spam on sushi rice with a seaweed wrap.
Customers loved the Spam and asked for more. Owner Paul Wahba says they now have 14 different ways of serving Spam.
“We started out,” Wahba said, “just going to a local store, like give me five cans a week.” Today, each week he gets 100 cases of Spam. “That’s 2400 cans of Spam,” Lee notes, “Customers can even find Spam burritos and tacos.”
Vegan Spam. Hormel now has 11 varieties of Spam, including Hot & Spicy, Lite, Bacon, and 25% Less Sodium. There’s also OmniPork, a vegan Spam. (Perfect for the likes of me; I’m sort of vegetarian except for sausage.) OmniPork Luncheon meat is made of non-GMO soy bean, with beetroot added to give the proper color.
But What About That Other Kind? Merriam-Webster defines spam as “unsolicited commercial messages (such as email, text messages, or Internet postings) sent to a large number of recipients or posted in a large number of places.”
The word is both a noun (first known use, 1990) and a verb (1994). M-W credits the British Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit “in which a chanting of the word Spam overrides the other dialogue.”
Wikipedia discusses the history of spamming, including pre-Internet mass distributions of one thing or another (e.g., a dentist’s telegraph ad in May 1864).
Trademark Considerations. Wikipedia writes, “Hormel Foods Corporation, the maker of SPAM luncheon meat, does not object to the Internet use of the term ‘spamming.’ However, they did ask that the capitalized word ‘Spam’ be reserved to refer to their product and trademark. By and large, this request is obeyed in forums that discuss spam.”
Let’s celebrate Spam, its history, international cuisine, and also Hormel’s wise recognition that familiarity of a product name is a plus. Imagine the brouhaha if rolls-roycing meant annoying car trips. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021