From Academic Kids

This article is about the canned meat. For other uses, see Spam.
A can of SPAM
A can of SPAM

SPAM is a canned pork product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation that has entered into folklore.

The labeled ingredients in the original variety of SPAM are chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water, sugar and sodium nitrite. Other varieties of SPAM differ; SPAM Lite contains pork and chicken, and SPAM Oven Roasted Turkey, a halaal food, is especially popular in Muslim markets.


The name of SPAM™

The name "SPAM" was chosen in the 1930s when the product, whose original name—"Hormel Spiced Ham"—was far less memorable, began to lose market share. The name was chosen from multiple entries in a naming contest. A Hormel official once stated that the original meaning of the name SPAM was "Shoulder of Pork And haM". According to writer Marguerite Patten in SPAM – The Cookbook, the name was suggested by Kenneth Daigneau, brother of the Hormel vice president and an actor.

Other explanations of the origin of the term include "SPiced hAM", "Spiced Pork And haM", "Specially Processed Army Meat", and "SPAre hAM"; there are also some less-than-serious explanations, such as "Synthetically Produced Artificial Meat". The current official expansion is the acronym "Specially Processed Assorted Meat"—the SPAM Lite variety contains both pork and chicken meat.

According to Hormel's trademark guidelines, SPAM™ is spelled with all capital letters and treated as an adjective, as in the phrase SPAM™ luncheon meat. As with many trademarks (such as LEGO™ or Kleenex™) users typically simply refer to similar meat products as SPAM.

SPAM around the world

Most other luncheon meats are precooked, whereas fried or otherwise cooked SPAM is also popular.

Also of interest is a small local festival in Austin, Minnesota where Hormel corporate HQ is located. The event, known as SPAM Jam is a carnival-type celebration which coincides with local Fourth of July festivities, featuring parades and fireworks which often relate to the popular luncheon meat. Austin is also home to the SPAM Museum, and the plant that produces the SPAM for most of North America and Europe.

Of the United States, the residents of the state of Hawaii and the territory of Guam consume the most SPAM annually. One popular Hawaiian SPAM dish is SPAM musubi, in which cooked SPAM is combined with rice and nori seaweed in a manner similar to a pressed sushi roll.

As of 2003, SPAM is sold in 41 countries worldwide. The largest consumers of SPAM after the United States are the United Kingdom and South Korea. It is also a favourite among the people of Saipan, the Philippines, and Pacific Islanders.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev credited donations of American supplies of SPAM for the ability of the Soviet Union to feed the Red Army during World War II.

SPAM was one of the few meat products excluded from the British food rationing that began in World War II (and continued for a number of years after the war), and the British grew heartily tired of it. The British comedy troupe Monty Python used this as the context for their Spam sketch.

The Monty Python musical Spamalot opened on Broadway in New York City in early 2005. It combines themes of the quest for the Holy Grail and SPAM. As of April 2005, it was sold out for most performances.

Cultural references

SPAM is not to be confused with spam, the common term for unsolicited bulk electronic messages. Hormel does not object to the term, but insists that it be spelled in lower case so as to distinguish it from the capitalized SPAM™ trademark. Hormel objects to SPAM's product identity (e.g. images of SPAM cans) being used in relation to spamming, and has filed lawsuits against companies which have attempted to trademark words containing "SPAM".

An Internet joke exists around the notion of a little known religion called "Spammism" which worships the meat.

The Internet also spawned the not-so-subtle art form of SPAM Haiku; see for example The SPAM Haiku Archive (

"Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a song called "SPAM" that is a parody of the R.E.M song "Stand". The song's lyrics are all about the world-famous luncheon meat. The song is included on the soundtrack album for Yankovic's film UHF, although it does not appear in the movie.

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