Where did that word ever come from?* According to Wikipedia Spam is “the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.” I think the folks at Hormel would beg to differ.
My first and most lasting memories of Spam are from my days as a Boy Scout. During our 50 mile backpack trip, the rite of passage for most scouts, the honor of being chief cook and quartermaster fell upon yours truly. Not only did this prestigious responsibility produce a cooking “merit badge” it also included the preparation of all the food. The canned food was extremely limited, but the scoutmaster insisted on bringing these little square blue cans of amalgamated random pork parts. To look at the stuff was not advisable, but after hiking about 13 miles on dusty, rocky, trails the day before food tastes amazing. Fried up in their own plethora of fat juices over an open fire at 11,000 ft the salty goodness of this culinary anomaly is forever etched onto the immortal tablets of my most savored gluttony. Combined with corn polenta (on the side, silly) and just a hint of maple syrup these steamy plates of cholesterol were devoured instantly by the ravenous pre-pubescent pack of pimple pushers. These are the times of which memories are made.
It is with this reverence that I take umbrage at the extreme to which the e-mail community has vilified any use of unsolicited bulk electronic communication. By the definition of most of the “reputable” email marketing companies, “bulk” warning people of a tidal wave would be considered Spam. The message would be unsolicited, according to the content is irrelevant, and it would be sent to hundreds of thousands of addresses. According to the Spamhaus Project: “Spam is an issue about consent, not content. Whether the Unsolicited Bulk Email (“UBE”) message is an advert, a scam, porn, a begging letter or an offer of a free lunch, the content is irrelevant – if the message was sent unsolicited and in bulk then the message is spam.”
I say enough! We have gone way too far. Obviously nobody wants the un-solicited billions of messages offering Viagra or a Ukrainian girlfriend for cheap, that are generated “offshore” and filtered through dozens of websites so that they are un-traceable and un-stoppable, but is there no middle ground? Is it un-ethical for the local Church to buy a list of email addresses in their City to announce a clothing drive to help the people in Japan? Is it un-ethical for a local school to send out a notice for a free class for the unemployed on job hunting?
The can spam act is VERY clear on its stipulations, and as long as you identify your message as an ad, identify yourself accurately, and offer the recipient the option of an “opt-out” you are free to send people an unsolicited message. Do I think that this has been abused? Certainly. Do I think that there are many un-orthodox practices that defy ethics and are practiced in business every day? Heck yes.
What I propose is that we use some common sense. If one has an honest offer that one feels is of value to an audience, I think they have the right to communicate it. There is no regulation of what kind of shit gets put on the television, with increased volume. The offshore Viagra peddlers will never stop. You drive down the freeway and see a billboard every 20 feet. Heck, the email messages at least give one the option of an opt-out. I really think that there are people with WAY too much time on their hands to take this up as a cause. If you want to be a zealot about something why don’t you go off on the price of gas!
- According to the Internet Society and other sources, the term spam is derived from the 1970 Spam sketch of the BBC television comedy series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus“. The sketch is set in a cafe where nearly every item on the menu includes Spam canned luncheon meat. As the waiter recites the Spam-filled menu, a chorus of Viking patrons drowns out all conversations with a song repeating “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… lovely Spam! wonderful Spam!”, hence “Spamming” the dialogue.[
The Story of a Classic
The first can of SPAM® Classic was produced in 1937 in Austin, Minnesota. After all these years, SPAM® Classic is still a tasty staple in kitchens around the world.
But did you know that the SPAM® Family of Products is part of the Hormel Foods Corporation? Since 1891, the Hormel name has been synonymous with quality, value and innovation.
Learn more about our innovation processes and commitment to food safety in our 2009 Hormel Foods Corporate Responsibility Report.
Visit hormelfoods.com to learn more about Hormel Foods.