How Did Internet “Spam” Get Its Name?

Ben Stegner 23-10-2015



It’s the catch-all name for unwanted messages you receive online, and everyone hates it. And while it has become easier to avoid spam Still Getting Spam? 4 Email Mistakes to Avoid Today Avoiding spam is impossible. But there are some lesser known tips, tricks, and secrets that can help you fight the battle against suspicious email. Read More thanks to things like advanced email filters, junk messages continue to fill up comment sections, email inboxes, and Facebook chats across the world.

In fact, did you know that even if you keep your own inbox clear of spam What Everybody Ought to Know About Dealing With Email Spam It might be next to impossible to stop spam completely, but it's certainly possible to reduce its flow to a trickle. We outline some of the different measures you can take. Read More , you could be spamming your email contacts without even knowing it Are You Spamming Your Email Contacts? How to Find Out & Fix the Problem Spam is annoying, but what happens when your email account is the one sending it out? Find out how to recognize the signs and defuse the problem. Read More ?

But where did the term “spam” come from?

You can thank a certain Monty Python sketch in which a couple enters a café and can’t find anything on the breakfast menu that doesn’t include Spam (the canned lunch meat).

The skit, which you can watch below, was meant as a humorous look at the widespread availability of Spam in the U.K. and the U.S. during and after World War II. As it became synonymous with cheap, bland food, everyone soon grew sick of seeing it and eating it.


To really hit this point home, the characters utter the word “spam” a ridiculous amount of times:

Fast-forward to the early days of Internet chat rooms: people would type “spam” dozens of times, quote the above sketch, draw stupid ASCII art, and otherwise type large amounts of meaningless text to drive other people out of said chat rooms.

Like the food, this kind of spam also ended up everywhere and hard to avoid, thus giving birth to the term we all know and love today. Combine that with the use of email as a cheap mass-marketing tactic What Was the First Internet Ad? It's Not What You Think Can you guess what the first internet advertisement was? Here's a hint: it wasn't a banner. Read More  and the rest is history.

How do you deal with spam? Let us know your thoughts on email spam (or canned Spam) in the comments!

Image Credit: TijanaM via

Related topics: History, Spam.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    I boil it with elbow macaroni, so the fat will mix with the starch before adding cheese.

    • Ben Stegner
      October 23, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Sounds like you know the finer points of cooking Spam :)

    • Anonymous
      October 23, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      I prefer to fry it, sometimes with pineapple.