A Canned Meat Compendium

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BBDO/Minneapolis senior copywriter Dan Armstrong and his former BBDO creative partner Dustin Black, both admitted Spam eaters, are the co-authors of The Book of Spam: A Most Glorious and Definitive Compendium of the World's Favorite Canned Meat, a $23.95 hardcover, new from Atria Books. If you're wondering why they'd write a history of this Hormel Foods mystery meat, even if they do really like it, the Spam account has been at BBDO/Minneapolis since 1937 when the product was created, and Armstrong has been working on the business since 2000. But still, is a book on the food that has already lent its name to the most hated species of e-mail really necessary? Yes, he insists, "because there's so much more to this iconic brand than most people know. It's a Spam world and we just live in it. We're trying to educate people and bridge the gap between the Spams and the Spam-nots. That, and we both got really tired of having in-depth conversations about Spam with anyone who found out we worked on it. Now we can just tell them to buy our book."

There's a question sometimes seen in the Kafka Questionnaire in Creativity: What's worse and why, cannibalism or Spam? Would Spam expert Armstrong care to weigh in on this issue? "Which would you rather eat after a mountaintop plane crash with your Brazilian soccer team friends?" he challenges. "A can filled with delicious pork and ham? Or your best friend's ass? Case closed." OK, but hasn't Monty Python already done Spam to death? "The Spam skit was over 30 years ago," Armstrong points out. "During that time, a couple billion cans of Spam have been sold. If anything, it helped Spam gain a level of mystery. There's no such thing as bad PR, right? I think it certainly helped cement the idea of Spam into worldwide pop culture and it gave Spam a funny edge. Most people aren't sure what to think about Spam, and usually those people know next to nothing about it. Stop wrinkling your nose already."

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