Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam …

Python_1Remember back in the happy-go-nutty dot-com days, when Hormel was grumpy that junk e-mail had earned the nickname “spam”? Didn’t people know—didn’t they care?!—that hardworking Hormel execs had come up with the name SPAM to sell delicious canned meat? And that they’d done so in 1937, before the parents of most bratty millionaire dot-commers were even born, for God’s sake?

Well, they looked like doofuses. So now, as Eric Idle preps his new Mike Nichols-directed musical, Monty Python’s Spamalot, for Broadway, Hormel is on board with cross-promotions a-go-go. The first 100 people in line to buy tickets Monday at Broadway’s Shubert Theater got a spiffy can of limited-edition golden honey grail SPAM in Spamalot-branded packaging. Plus, the Spammobile apparently did a drive-by. The other group gift mentioned in the New York Times ad shown here—free spankings to the first 100 worthy subjects—apparently was not bestowed, at least not in broad daylight outside the Shubert.

Funnily enough, junk e-mail probably got the name spam thanks to Monty Python, in a skit featuring the Hormel product. The company even puts forth that theory on its Web site: “In this skit,” the site says, “a group of Vikings sang a chorus of ‘spam, spam, spam … ’ in an increasing crescendo, drowning out other conversation. Hence, the analogy applied, because [junk e-mail] was drowning out normal discourse on the Internet.”

If you don’t feel like working this morning, browse the rest of Hormel’s treatise on junk e-mail here. “Let’s face it,” it reads in part. “Today’s teens and young adults are more computer savvy than ever, and the next generations will be even more so. Children will be exposed to the slang term ‘spam’ to describe [junk e-mail] well before being exposed to our famous product SPAM. Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, ‘Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk e-mail?’ ”

—Posted by Tim Nudd