Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How Spam went from canned goods to junk e-mail

Invented during the Great Depression by Jay Hormel, the son of the company’s founder, Spam is a combination of ham, pork, sugar, salt, water, potato starch and a “hint” of sodium nitrate to help Spam keep its gorgeous pink color,” according to Hormel’s Web site for the product.

Because it is vacuum-sealed in a can and does not require refrigeration, Spam can last for years. Hormel says “it’s like meat with a pause button.”

Spam developed a camp following in the 1970s, mainly because of Monty Python, the English comedy troupe. In a 1970 skit, a couple tried to order breakfast at a cafe featuring Spam in nearly every entree, like “Spam, Eggs, Sausage and Spam.” The diners were eventually drowned out by a group of Vikings singing, “Spam, lovely Spam, wonderful Spam.”

(Familiar with the skit, Internet pioneers labeled junk e-mail “spam” because it overwhelmed other dialogue, according to one theory.)”

“Spam Turns Serious and Hormel Turns Out More”

The larger point of Andrew Martin's article is that, as America goes through tough times and families cut back on expenses, sales of Spam are soaring as “consumers are rediscovering relatively cheap foods, Spam among them.”

They have Spam, we have sardines. “Perhaps the emblematic hard-times food in the American pantry,” Spam is to the Yanks what canned mackerel is to us. With one difference: We've never had to “rediscover” Ligo, Master or 555. We've never been out of the hard times, that's why.

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