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When Spam’s Not Spam


Poor Hormel: the U.S. company has been told by the European Union that its oft-scorned meat-in-a-can product Spam isn’t the only “spam” out there.

Lawyers tried to register the trademark name in Belgium for the European market, but the EU said no. On this side of the pond “spam” is more commonly known as unsolicited e-mail messages than Hormel SpicedHam or Spam.
The folks from Minnesota couldn’t believe it and appealed, but the EU ‘crats let Google decide. A go on the search engine proved that those unwanted Cialis messages and fake contacts from would-be Russian brides are, in fact, better known as spam than the Spam product in Europe.
You may wonder how Europeans have survived so long without this culinary milestone. Well, they haven’t: next vacation on the old continent, check out the supermarket shelves.
Just about every country has its own variation on the Spam theme. In Italy, shredded canned beef in gelatin is best known with a brand called Simmenthal (now owned by Kraft), the brainchild of a Milanese restaurateur way back in 1881.
It is eaten as summer fare, much like canned tuna, in salads or with cold vegetables. Sounds vile, and it pretty much is, though the TV ads feature a series of ecstatic kids (tykes and teens) who rejoice as the signora of the house hoists out a plate of the stuff, worth watching for the shot of it resting on a hydraulic bed of whipped potatoes.
Had the EU granted the trademark, those valiant companies who try to free us from unwanted messages wouldn’t have been able to use the word “spam” to describe services or branding.
Judging from my inbox this morning (46 spams) that would be a bad thing.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 7:36 AM | Permalink

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