Published Monthly

From the Editor (May 2005)
by Michael Haislip

The meat byproduct industry faces a grave threat. This threat must be stopped at all costs. At stake is the very soul of the thriving industry.

The problem is the misuse of the word “spam.” When writing, for example, people often use the descriptive phrase, “the sunset was as pink as spam.” The preceding description is incorrect for two reasons:

1. As we all know, sunsets are actually as pink as potted meat.

2. The colloquial “spam” should be printed as “SPAM®”

I learned this startling fact after reading an ad in Writer's Digest from Hormel that stated, “Our product is called SPAM® not spam.”

Apparently, the SPAM® lawyers get their underwear in a metaphorical bunch when they see their trademark being misused.
Their worst fear is the “aspirin effect.” Years ago, Bayer created aspirin. As a result, they owned the patent for the product and the trademark on the name. However, since the name “aspirin” was soon used by everyone to describe any mild analgesic, the trademark became part of the general language, thus losing its trademark status (a company can’t trademark common words, otherwise I’d be paying someone a fortune every time I used the word “the”).

Hormel isn’t the only company that deals with this problem. I also saw ads from Xerox, Rollerblade, Chiquita and 3M. Did you know that “rollerblading” is a misuse of “Rollerblade®.” At least that’s what the Rollerblade lawyers said in their ad.

What does all of this wacky trademark business mean to you? Well, not much unless you publish the “Eating spam while rollerblading to the xerox machine” newsletter (if that’s the case, please get help). Now we can all rest easier knowing the correct usage of SPAM®. So, kick back this evening with a cold one and enjoy the beautiful potted meat as it sinks over the horizon.

Michael Haislip is the editor of AntiMuse. For 6 years, he published the cult favorite American Assassin magazine, churning out almost 1000 pages of commentary and humor in that span. In his spare time, Michael is a freelance writer and musician. He also wishes it known that he has the longest biography out of all the staff writers.


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