A Little SPAM History Lesson. Just Because.

In case you were wondering, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 has nothing to do with the surprisingly tasty spiced pork product which comes in a CAN and is called SPAM. 

SPAM’s illustrious history, in a nutshell.

SPAM was introduced in 1937 by the Hormel Foods Corp. Hormel claims that the meaning of the name is “known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives”, but popular beliefs are that the name is an abbreviation of “spiced ham” or “shoulders of pork and ham”. Another popular explanation is that SPAM is an acronym standing for “Specially Processed American Meat”.

Because the meat was precooked in the tin it was packaged in – each complete with a special “key” to open it – SPAM gained immense popularity worldwide, especially after its use to feed the troops during World War II. Over 150 million pounds of SPAM was purchased by the military before the war’s end. And, in 2007, the seven billionth can of SPAM was sold!

Hawaiians love their SPAM.

SPAM is a beloved mainstay food source throughout the world, but is especially popular in the state of Hawaii, where residents have the highest per capita SPAM consumption in the United States. Its perception there is very different from on the mainland.

A popular native sushi dish in Hawaii is a dish called SPAM musubi, where cooked SPAM is placed atop rice and wrapped in a band of nori, a form of onigiri. There are even varieties of SPAM found in Hawaii that are unavailable in other markets, including Honey SPAM, SPAM with Bacon, and Hot and Spicy SPAM.

In Hawaii, SPAM is so popular that it is sometimes referred to as “The Hawaiian Steak”. Hawaiian Burger King restaurants began serving SPAM in 2007 to compete with the local McDonald’s chains.

So how did canned SPAM become CAN-SPAM?

By the 1990s, the notion that SPAM was everywhere at the same time led to its name being adopted for unsolicited electronic messages, especially email. This is the only thing the two “spams” have in common!

Due to the ubiquity of spam in our inboxes, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was passed and is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. CAN-SPAM is an acronym for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing.

The mission of the act is to protect consumers by establishing requirements for those who send unsolicited commercial email. The act bans false or misleading header information and prohibits deceptive subject lines. It also requires that unsolicited commercial emailers provide recipients with a method for opting out of receiving such email. The messages must also be identified as an advertisement.

In addition to enforcing the statute, the FTC must issue rules involving the required labeling of sexually explicit commercial email and the criteria for determining the primary purpose of a commercial email. The act also instructs the commission to report to Congress on the feasibility of a National Do-Not-E-Mail Registry, as well as requiring reports on the labeling of all unsolicited commercial email. It also requires the creation of a “bounty system” to promote enforcement of the law, and the effectiveness and enforcement of the statute.

While the CAN_SPAM Act was well-intentioned, many feel that it fell short of really making sure that consumers were protected from highly technical and dangerous cyber criminals.

Check out the following link for some great information and clarification as to what the CAN-SPAM Act requires, what it does and does not cover, and how it protects the rights of consumers: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2015/08/candid-answers-can-spam-questions

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