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Spam Is Turning 80. Here’s How the Canned Meat Took Over the World

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July 5, 2017

Time

Spam — the square can of pork, salt, water, sugar, potato starch and sodium nitrite that first rolled off the assembly lines 80 years ago during the Great Depression — was invented “as a way to peddle the then-unprofitable pork shoulder,” according to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.

It was the invention of Jay Hormel, son of George Hormel who founded the Hormel company, which pioneered canned pork products in Austin, Minn., in the late 1920s.

According to the company’s Spam Museum, Ken Digneau, the brother of a Hormel executive, came up with the name — a portmanteau word for “spiced ham” — in a naming contest and got $100 as a reward. The new product was introduced on July 5, 1937.