Evolution of Spam

How did the word spam evolve from the forever lasting shelf meat to junk mail in your virtual inbox?

SPAM was introduced in 1937 across American grocery store shelves. SPAM consists of pork and potato starch and was originally called Hormel Spiced Ham made by Geo A. Hormel & Co. It was shortened to SPAM later on by  unknown  reasons. There are stories floating around as to how SPAM came into existence, but nothing factual. The company does insist that the shelf meat be spelled in all caps: SPAM, not spam.

Adolf Hitler made SPAM a great success when WWII caused food shortages in Britain. Today, SPAM remains a staple in Britain and Britain’s helped spam evolve. A popular 1970 movie, Monty Python, helped re-revolutionized the word in accordance to computer language.  In a scene, two people are lowered into a nasty café somewhere in Britain where almost every dish contains SPAM. In the café, a group of Vikings start singing SPAM ad infinitum et nauseam.

Now for some literary interpretation, the Vikings in Monty Python represented a computer virus that has SPAM its recipients. For the audience its comedic, but it symbolizes a bigger approach for computer developers. In the 1980s, there was a computer joke among code writers which introduced the word SPAM. The first word of the code was SPAM which, then, would repeat itself, giving the recipient a screenful of SPAM they couldn’t stop.

By 1990, the use of spam became mainstream in computer language meaning “anything unwanted on the internet.” That is why we now refer junk mail or mass celebrity nude photographs e-mailed to our inboxes as spam, or more appropriately, SPAM. We must remember that SPAM is a proprietary name, just like Google and heroin.