Spam (its name a portmanteau of the words "Spiced" and "Ham") is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam's gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock. The product has become part of many jokes and urban legends about mystery meat, which has made it part of pop culture and folklore. Through a Monty Python sketch, in which Spam is portrayed as ubiquitous and inescapable, its name has come to be given to electronic spam, including spam email.
Spam is celebrated in a small local festival in Austin, Minnesota, where Hormel corporate headquarters are located. The event, known as Spam Jam, is a carnival-type celebration that coincides with local Fourth of July festivities, featuring parades and fireworks that often relate to the popular luncheon meat. Austin is also home to the Spam Museum, and the plant that produces Spam for most of North America and Europe. In addition to the periodic celebration, there is a national recipe competition where submissions are accepted at the top forty state fairs in the nation.
The small town of Shady Cove, Oregon is home to the annual Spam Parade and Festival, with the city allocating $1500 for it.
The Spam Jam is not to be confused with Spamarama, which is a yearly festival held around April Fool's Day in Austin, Texas. The theme of Spamarama is gentle parody of Spam, rather than straightforward celebration: the event at the heart of the festival is a Spam cook-off that originated as a challenge to produce an appetizing recipe for the meat. The festival includes light sporting activities and musical acts, in addition to the cook-off.