Captain Moonlight: Banal and frivolous? I blame the name

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SPAM. Spam. Spam. Spam. Spam. It was, of course, the week when, in the words of Tony Banks (qv), the Spam hit the fan, the week when a lethal combination of Dame Vera Lynn and fried pork luncheon meat dished John Major's D- Day. It has a curious hold on the national consciousness, Spam. Why should this innocent canned product excite such scorn and lampoonery? It had just lived down the War when Monty Python came along with that sketch which adduced to Spam, let us say, an unexciting character. It had just lived down Monty Python when tentative plans to have a Spam fritter cooking competition at Culzean Castle came to symbolise all that was banal and frivolous about D-Day, 1994.

It is, the Captain feels, the name. Spam, I am here to tell you, was invented by Geo. A Hormel & Co, of Austin, Minnesota, USA, and was the first pork product to be successfully canned. It was introduced in 1937. The name was suggested by Kenneth Daigneau, Broadway actor and brother of a Hormel vice-president, at a New Year's Eve party in 1936. Some say he was told the new product was Shoulder Pork and Ham; others say he was told Spiced Pork and Ham. Sadly, the truth is lost forever, as is how many drinks old Daigneau had downed before, quick as a flash, he cried 'Spam]'. Intrigued? The Captain has more. Here are 13 Things You Didn't Know About Spam.

1 Spam first came to Britain as part of the Lease Lend Act. 2 Most Allied troops had Spam most days, and at times Spam was the only meat available in Britain. 3 During the war, it was fried with bread as a main meal, eaten cold in sandwiches, and graced wedding receptions as filling for the vol-au-vents. 4 A large tin of Spam cost a whole month's coupons. 5 In the United States, currently, 3.8 cans of Spam are consumed every second. 6 The UK is the largest market outside the US, followed by South Korea. 7 A Spam jamboree is held each year in Austin. 8 On 22 March this year, the 5 billionth can of Spam was produced. 9 If all these cans were laid end to end they would circle the earth 12 1/2 times. 10 In Britain, Spam is manufactured by Newforge Foods, of Liverpool, which produces 12 million cans a year. 11 'Everybody smiles when you mention Spam,' says Newforge marketing manager Robert Lucas. 'Occasionally we feel they're poking too much fun, but if they're talking about it, when they go to the supermarket they might try it again.' 12 Nevins Ltd (yes, relations, my two brothers, very friendly shops, in the North-west, go there this week) sold 15,000 tins last year, together with 1,000 bottles of salad cream to go with it (while we're about it, my mum was very fond of that dried egg). 13 Spam Carbonara is very popular in our house.

Next week: 20 exciting things to do with a snoek.

(Photograph omitted)

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