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Spam began life in 1937, when Hormel Foods of Austin, Minnesota, launched is spiced ham, the first canned meat product to need no refrigeration. The company boss initiated a contest to find a snappier name. Kenneth Daigneau was the winner, and by taking two letters from each name he won $100.

The renamed product quickly became a favourite, but it was America"s entry into the Second World War when its finest hour arrived. As it needed no refrigeration, Spam became a crucial part of a soldier"s rations.

At its peak, Hormel was supplying the Allies with 15 million cans of Spam a week. After the war, Hormel opened Spam factories all over the world.

With refrigeration, and possibly the development of more sophisticated tastes - sales declined, but a recent resurgence means they still top six billion worldwide. For more information, and a load of "poetry" see

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