While unsolicited email advertisements have been around for decades, it wasn’t until a few years later that it was commonly called “spam”.  The story on how it came to be called “spam” is an interesting one.

The actual spam term came from a Monty Python sketch from 1970 where there was a cafe that featured a menu (shown left) where every menu item featured spam, often multiple portions of spam.  When the breakfast menu was read aloud by the waitress, roughly 80% of the menu items were spam,  so it was similar to early in-boxes, you had to get past a lot of spam to actually get to bacon or sausage, or a real email. Since this mirrored the experience of working through inbox submissions, it was a fairly natural jump to call unsolicited emails spam.

The actual dialog from that sketch drives the word spam into your head, the scene is set in a cafe, incredibly one table is occupied by Vikings wearing horned helmets.  Whenever the word “spam” is mentioned (and it is uttered 132 times in the sketch), they break into spam songs and chants.  A couple enters the restaurant to inquire about breakfast and the dialog is as follows: 

Man: You sit here, dear.
Wife: All right.
Man: Morning!
Waitress: Morning!
Man: Well, what’ve you got?
Waitress: Well, there’s egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam;
Vikings: Spam spam spam spam…
Waitress: …spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam…
Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!
Waitress: …or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam.
Wife: Have you got anything without spam?
Waitress: Well, there’s spam egg sausage and spam, that’s not got much spam in it.
Wife: I don’t want ANY spam!
Man: Why can’t she have egg bacon spam and sausage?
Wife: THAT’S got spam in it!
Man: Hasn’t got as much spam in it as spam egg sausage and spam, has it?
Vikings: Spam spam spam spam… (Crescendo through next few lines…)
Wife: Could you do the egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam then?
Waitress: Urgghh!
Wife: What do you mean ‘Urgghh’? I don’t like spam!
Vikings: Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!
Waitress: Shut up!
Vikings: Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!
Waitress: Shut up! (Vikings stop) Bloody Vikings! You can’t have egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam.
Wife: I don’t like spam!
Man: Sshh, dear, don’t cause a fuss. I’ll have your spam. I love it. I’m having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam beaked beans spam spam spam and spam!
Vikings: Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!
Waitress: Shut up!! Baked beans are off.
Man: Well could I have her spam instead of the baked beans then?
Waitress: You mean spam spam spam spam spam spam… (but it is too late and the Vikings drown her words)
Vikings: (Singing) Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam! Spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam spa-a-a-a-a-am spam. Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam! Spam spam spam spam!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *