Home » People astonished to learn what SPAM actually stands for after decades

People astonished to learn what SPAM actually stands for after decades

by Mahmmod Shar

By Ben Cost

No, it doesn’t stand for junk mail.

It’s not just ketchup preservation methods that are blowing people’s minds online. Internet gourmands had their world turned upside down after they learned just what the acronym SPAM, referring to the ubiquitous canned pork patty, stands for.

First released in 1937 by Minnesota-based food firm Hormel Foods, the infamous meat rectangle has become synonymous in culinary circles with the ultimate mystery meat.

Fortunately, the ingredients of this epicurean in-joke are not an enigma: they entail a rather simple (especially in today’s additive-saturated supermarket aisles) assemblage of pork, water, salt, potato starch, sugar and sodium nitrate.

However, the acronym has continued to frazzle minds, with food-unsavvy social media users conjuring up their own theories for what the letters represent.

“On a whim I purchased canned meat,” said one pork patty postulator. “With the first taste I understood SPAM was an acronym for Salt Preserves Any Meat.”

“What does SPAM stand for? Salty Piece A’ Meat?” theorized another.

“I often conjectured that ‘Spam’ was an acronym for ‘Spoiled Ham,’” joked one armchair gourmet, while one Twitter wit quipped, “I just learned that SPAM is an acronym for Sizzle Pork And Mmm.”

SPAM in a security case at the Duane Reade at Port Authority in NYC.
SPAM in a security case at the Duane Reade at Port Authority in NYC.

Others invoked the old Bill Engvall joke that SPAM stands for “stuff posing as meat.”

Other pervasive misconceptions included “scientifically processed animal matter,” and “shoulder of pork and ham.

Some flabbergasted commenters weren’t aware that SPAM stood for anything. “I was today years old when I learned that SPAM is an acronym,” one said.

As it runs out, SPAM is actually a portmanteau of “spiced ham” that actor Ken Daigneau, the brother of a Hormel executive, dreamed up during a naming contest, Time reported.

Daigneau spit out “Spam” as if “it were nothing at all,” company founder Jay Hormel told New Yorker writer Brendan Gill in 1945, according to Eater. “I knew then and there that the name was perfect.”

Open Can of SPAM and seven unopened cans of SPAM isolated on a white background.
SPAM’s popularity spiked during WW2 due to its shelf life and resultant shipability.

SPAM hit shelves on July 5, 1937, helping fill the much-needed cheap eats void created during the Great Depression, per the Hormel Foods website.

Its popularity skyrocketed during World War 2 due to its seemingly endless shelf life, which allowed the pork to be shipped anywhere in the world. SPAM is now available in 44 different countries.

Originally devised as an affordable canned food, this upwardly mobile block of meat has since been baptized into haute cuisine.

Sliced spam.
SPAM is actually a portmanteau meaning “spiced ham.”

This culinary hipsterization hit NYC with the arrival of Hawaiian and Japanese-inflected dishes such as SPAM fried rice with seared ahi tuna at Sushi Ko in 2014.

Speaking of mind-blowing food facts, a McDonald’s manager split the space-time continuum several years ago after revealing that Grimace — the eggplant-esque purple mascot — is meant to be a giant taste bud.

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