What Lips My Lips Have Kissed

Old Spam adAdmit it, whether or not a chunk of pink SPAM meat will ever cross your lips, you'd still like to know where the brand came from.

Made of pork shoulder and ham with a dash of sodium nitrate to make it pink, the product got its catchy name from a customer in a naming contest in the 1930s. And depending whom you ask, the name is short for Shoulder of Pork and hAM, SPiced hAM, or nothing at all (SPAM is just SPAM, claims Hormel). During World War II, sales soared. Because it lasts indefinitely without refrigeration, the meat product became a staple for soldiers and was not rationed for civilians. Military personnel introduced it to Hawaii, where it quickly became part of the local diet. To this day Hawaiians eat more SPAM per capita than anywhere else - in sushi, paired with pineapple and a hundred other ways.

Though not confirmable, online legend holds that the word "spam" became associated with unwanted and annoying electronic correspondence as early as the 1980s. The story goes that users of primitive BBS chat services would dump the words to the Monty Python "spam song" into chats to annoy others. From there the word migrated over to MUD (multi-use dungeons) gaming communities, where players used it to refer to any unwanted information sent on the platform.

Spam really caught fire as a slang term in 1994, according to Brad Templeton, chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. To find new clients, a pair of lawyers from Phoenix placed mass postings on several thousand online newsgroups. Irate recipients called the postings "spam" in their vitriolic reactions, and the online world soon expanded the slur to apply to e-mail.
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