Introduced on July 5, 1937, the name "Spam" was chosen in the 1930s when the product, whose original name was far less memorable (Hormel Spiced Ham
), began to lose market share. The name was chosen from multiple entries in a naming contest. A Hormel official once stated that the original meaning of the name Spam was "Shoulder of Pork And haM
". According to writer Marguerite Patten in Spam – The Cookbook, the name was suggested by Kenneth Daigneau, an actor and the brother of a Hormel vice president, who was given a $100 prize for coming up with the name. At one time, the official explanation may have been that the name was a syllabic abbreviation of "SPiced hAM", but on their official website, Hormel states that "Spam is just that. Spam."
Many jocular backronyms have been devised, such as "Something Posing As Meat", "Stuff, Pork And haM" and "Spare Parts Animal Meat."
According to Hormel's trademark guidelines, Spam should be spelled with all capital letters and treated as an adjective, as in the phrase "SPAM luncheon meat". As with many other trademarks, such as Xerox or Kleenex, people often refer to similar meat products as "spam". Regardless, in practice, "spam" is generally spelled and used as a proper noun.