The Origin of SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM

I'm sure you all got to know spam pretty well through your daily internet dealings, but do you really know spam?

Why the heck do we call it spam? And how did a "delicious" meat product became associated with "unsolicited bulk electronic messages"? Well, the whole story is a bit funny. Actually it’s hilarious.

Tasty Spam

So what exactly is SPAM, you ask? Well, it is a canned precooked meat made of pork shoulder, ham, salt, water, sugar and sodium nitrite. It was introduced by the Geo. A. Hormel Company back in the pre WW1 times.

That is all nice and dandy, but what does this luncheon meat (Shoulder of Pork and hAM, SPiced hAM) got to do with junk emails that we all hate so much?

The answer is – Monty Python, the most brilliant and hilarious minds of the twentieth century, and their classic Spam sketch.

Spam sketch is about two customers trying to order a breakfast from a menu that includes spam in almost every item. The waitress keeps repeating the word spam and there are also a bunch of vikings there singing about it (don't ask why?). The sketch first broadcasted in December 15, 1970.

You should know that the Monty Python's brilliance and wackiness was well known back then at the dawn of internet (1980s).

Due to the repetitious nature of spam in the their sketch, the term spam started to be used in Bulletin Board services(BBS), IRC and USENET groups to describe something that is annoying and keeps repeating itself (email chain letters, network abuse, massive junk postings...). The term caught up over the years and in the 1990s when internet sort of exploded everyone knew what it stands for. And that's how we got spam that isn't for eating.

I know you have all been waiting for the sketch. Here it is:

The famous Spam Skit

I really enjoyed the viking song:

"Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

How about You?

And the menu sounded delicious:

  • Egg and bacon
  • Egg, sausage and bacon
  • Egg and spam
  • Egg, bacon and spam
  • Egg, bacon, sausage and spam
  • Spam, bacon, sausage and spam
  • Spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam
  • Spam, spam, spam, egg, and spam
  • Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam
  • Lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce garnished with truffle paté, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam

Did you know:

  • 80-85% of incoming mail is spam
  • 63% of "remove me from your list" requests are not honoured
  • 90 billion spam messages are sent out every day
  • The first spam case goes back as far as 1978

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3 comments

jim.sheng profile image

jim.sheng 8 years ago from UK

very funny.


cspence profile image

cspence 7 years ago

Those were the days before spam was a four letter word.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

How many times have I heard this skit? And every time I still laugh. I guess repetition is just funny.

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