Geek Trivia

Which Comedy Group Can We Thank For the Naming Origin Of Spam Email?

Laurel and Hardy
The Kids in the Hall
Monty Python
Cheech and Chong
The Most Critical Feature Of A Gargoyle Is That It Is?
Still frame from the Monty Python comedy sketch that originated the spam slang
Monty Python

Answer: Monty Python

Whenever you complain about the spam flooding your email inbox or your favorite discussion board, you owe a nod to Monty Python for introducing the idea of spam as unwanted material via their comedic genius.

In 1970, members of the British comedy troupe created a short sketch dubbed “Spam” in which a husband and wife at a greasy-spoon style diner are attempting to order breakfast. The only impediment is that everything on the menu contains the reconstituted meat-mixture Spam, much to the distaste of the wife. The entirety of the three and a half minute sketch revolves around the absurdity of the menu and everyone’s disbelief that the wife doesn’t want the Spam.

Years later, the widespread love of Monty Python among computer hobbyists led to early email and Usenet adopters calling floods of unwanted messages and solicitations spam—items on the digital menu that nobody wanted, but were difficult to avoid.

While Hormel, the company behind the product Spam, has never been particularly happy with the association between their product and email that people hate to get, they’ve got a much cheerier relationship with the Monty Python sketch itself. The sketch is part of the company’s Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota and they’ve released commemorative tins for various Monty Python-related events like the Spamalot musical.