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Updated: 05/21/03

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Wednesday, 21 May, 2003

I am amazed at the amount of spam e-mail I get at the office. Probably upwards of 50 a day. All with some irresistable offer to sell me prescription drugs, refinance my mortgage, lose some weight or increase the size of my [fill in body part here]. Of course, one can't tell them to stop, because that only encourages them further - even if you will never, ever, EVER buy anything they're selling.

Someone asked me why all these important messages are called "spam." Good question, thought I.

Here's the popular Theory (Via TechTV.com):

It all started with Monty Python

A famous Monty Python skit revolved around a restaurant specializing in dishes involving lots of Spam. A group of Vikings sitting in the corner would sing Spam, Spam, Spam, lovely Spam. Wonderful Spam!, drowning out the waitress and all conversation in the restaurant.

Since unsolicited email is seen as drowning out all other communication, it made sense to call it spam (with a lowercase "s" to differentiate it from the Hormel meat product).

Yahoo.com adds an additional note:

Even Hormel Foods, the makers of SPAM, corroborate this explanation and do not object to the term (as long as it's spelled in lowercase letters to differentiate it from their trademark). Although, if they had their druthers, we would all use the phrase "unsolicited commercial email" or UCE. But that's not nearly as catchy.

Hormel's own website even has a SPAM position paper, wherein they state that they do not object to the term - I guess having your product name repeated, even in a derogatory way, is publicity.

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"Remember when what is now called publicity was called public shame and humiliation?"

-- P. J. O'Rourke (1947 - ____) US humorist, editor

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