Yesterday, we explored the origins of spam (the email annoyance); today, let's focus on the potted meat.
First, let's get the ingredients out of the way. SPAM comes, via a lot of processing, from pigs "“ it's made of chopped pork shoulder meat with ham, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrite. Unless, that is, it's SPAM Lite, in which case there's also some chicken in there. Or SPAM Oven Roasted Turkey, which includes (we assume) turkey and is suitable for Muslims.
Now that we know what it's made of, why? SPAM was invented in the late-Depression era, in 1937, which may explain at least some of why it seemed like a good idea: people were desperate. According to Nikita Khrushchev's book, "Khrushchev Remembers," SPAM was a godsend for another hungry group -- Russian soldiers in World War II. For a further illustration of how bad things were, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher "“ who we really, really can't imagine eating SPAM -- reportedly once referred to it as a "wartime delicacy."
And what does "SPAM" "“ sorry, we have to capitalize it that way, Hormel says so "“ actually stand for? Despite convincing evidence, it doesn't stand for "something posing as meat." The company's official explanation is that it's short for "spiced ham," but that wasn't always its party line. Hormel has also stated in the past that the name stands for "shoulder of pork and ham," although we can sort of understand why it wouldn't necessarily want to drive home the whole "shoulder" thing today. The name was suggested by Kenneth Daigneau, an actor who received the $100 prize in a contest Hormel had sponsored. Conveniently, he just happened to be the brother of a Hormel vice president. We think there's just a little too much mystery in this mystery meat. Then again, SPAM has sold over 6 billion cans, and what have we done lately?