If you’re young you probably think of Spam as those annoying emails and messages you don’t want to receive.
But if you remember the days before the digital revolution you’ll remember that Spam was a kind of canned meat.
That canned meat celebrates its 80th birthday today – and it’s still loved and hated in equal measure.
What is Spam?
Spam is a variety of canned pork and ham.
According to the label it also contains salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar, and the preservative sodium nitrite.
When and where was Spam invented?
It was introduced by US food producer Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, in 1937.
Why is it called Spam?
The name was coined by Ken Daigneau, brother of a company executive, in a $100 contest to name Hormel’s new product.
What ‘Spam’ actually means is a trade secret.
Popular theories are it is a contraction of “spiced ham”, “spare meat”, or “shoulders of pork and ham”.
Some say it is an acronym for “Specially Processed American Meat” or “Specially Processed Army Meat”.
Why did Spam become popular during World War Two?
Delivering fresh meat to the front during World War Two was difficult so Spam rapidly become part of the US soldier’s diet.
Why does ‘spam’ now mean unwanted email and messages?
It stems from the Spam sketch from a 1970 edition of comedy Monty Python’s Flying Circus which portrays Spam as unpleasant and unavoidable.
Spam is still available from food retailers the world over.
In the US there are exotic variants of it include Hot and Spicy Spam with Tabasco sauce flavouring and Japanese inspired Spam Teriyaki. Yummy.
There is a Spam museum in Austin, Minnesota.