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Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are: chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrite to help keep its color. Spam’s gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock. The product has become part of many jokes and urban legends about mystery meat, which has made it part of pop culture and folklore.
Varieties of Spam vary by region and include Spam Classic, Spam Hot & Spicy, Spam Less Sodium, Spam Lite, Spam Oven Roasted Turkey, Hickory Smoked, and Spam Spread.
Spam sold in North America, South America, and Australia is produced in Austin, Minnesota, (also known as Spam Town USA) and in Fremont, Nebraska. Spam for the UK market isproduced in Denmark by Tulip under license from Hormel] Spam is also made in the Philippines and in South Korea. In 2002, the six billionth can of Spam was sold.
The repetitious nature of the Monty Python sketch, in which the customer becomes more and more exasperated by the appearances of “Spam” in every menu item, gave rise to the term spam as the common term for unsolicited bulk electronic messages. Hormel does not object to the term, but insists that it be spelled in lower case so as to distinguish it from its capitalized SPAM trademark.
In 1998, the New Oxford Dictionary of English, which had previously only defined “spam” in relation to the trademarked food product, added a second definition to its entry: “Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of newsgroups or users.”