Spam.

Originally a meat product and/or byproduct; Spam has taken on a fully different meaning than originally intended.  Hormel evidently finds the phrase “spam”, “spamming”, “spammed” or any other derivative of the word to be alright with their copyright lawyers provided any reference to the canned meat be described as “Spam” with the capital letter.  Having sold 7 billion cans by 2007 and become a major part of a theatrical masterpiece, Spam is without a doubt one of the most impactful if not the most impactful canned meat substance on the planet.

Created by George A. Hormel, the origin story of Spam began some 40 years before the actual naming of it as “Spam”.  Hormel ran a fresh meat business in Minnesota, where his son Jay eventually took over.  Jay found that his pork looked like all other pork and decided to make his product stand out while simultaneously bypassing a major issue of the meat business: seasonality and shelf life.  By the late 1920s, Jay had discovered a way to can ham and not allow it to dry out.  His canned ham garnered success, but wasn’t named Spam until a man won $100 in a naming contest with his entry.  What “Spam” is is not exactly known; some say that because early Spam was made from shoulders of ham, it was named Spam, others say it stands for spiced ham, and others still believe it means “special processed American meat”.

Regardless of the meaning of the name, Hormel was able to gain lasting fame when he got Spam set into the k-rations of the infantry during WWII.  Though soldiers may not have always received the brand name Spam, they ate huge quantities of Hormel brand canned ham.  Where the American Army went, so went Spam and Coca Cola.  It was the ultimate product placement.  In England after the war, Spam was a commonplace food because of its cheapness and supply.  The war ravaged agriculture of England then began to take on Spam as a household name, and in 1970, Monty Python’s Flying Circus showed off their now famous “Spam” skit.  A smash success, Python’s Spam was later used by internet trolls during the infancy of internet chat rooms.  People wishing to blot out the commentary of their peers would quote the skit and write blocks of text simply repeating “Spam spam spam spam”.  The action of mass messaging became known as spamming.  What had once been known as flooding or trashing then became spamming, as Star Wars fans would rush Star Trek websites to drown out meaningful intellectual discussion with their spam.  Oddly enough, the first case of mass unsolicited messaging was in 1864, over 100 years before the spamming was used in Monty Python’s skit.  The original spam message was a dentistry office who sent out a mass telegram to a gathering of British officials late in the evening telling them he would be open from 10 AM to 5 PM.  Messrs Gabriel, dentist and pre-internet troll.  The original.

Citations! spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(food)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(electronic)#cite_note-TheEconomist-15
http://www.economist.com/node/10286400/print?story_id=10286400
http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/spam-food2.htm
http://www.spam.com/spam-101/history-of-spam
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_(Monty_Python)

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