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Posted: July 11, 2013 6:10 p.m.

Many uses for SPAM, not spam

If you were SPAM, you’d be 76 years old this year, and plenty of jokes suggest that what comes out of a can of SPAM is about that old.

It’s sometimes described as mystery meat, but the ingredients are clearly stated: chopped pork shoulder and ham, along with potato starch to bind the ingredients and lots and lots of sodium nitrate (salt) to preserve it, maybe forever.

It’s a really good source of cheap protein – 13 grams in a 3.5-ounce serving – but it’s also got 27 grams of fat in a serving that size, including 10 grams of saturated fat.

The company has no answer for how SPAM got its name. It’s made in Austin, Minn., where there’s an annual celebration, as well as in Austin, Texas.

Interestingly, Hawaiians are among the largest per capita consumers of SPAM, and it shows up on the menu at both McDonald’s and Burger King there as a favorite breakfast item, "SPAM, eggs and rice."

Hawaiians particularly like SPAM Musubi (SPAM and rice wrapped in dried seaweed) and something called Army Base Stew. It uses SPAM, onion, garlic, leeks, spinach or kale, firm tofu, baked beans, Chile peppers, a Korean red pepper paste and ramen noodles without their seasoning.

Surely, a doctor must give permission before it can be consumed!

SPAM.com, of course, features a host of recipes: Apple SPAM Turnovers. SPAM-Chiladas. Bacon-wrapped SPAM bites. SPAM and Gnocchi Soup. SPAM French Toast Sticks. SPAM Waldorf Salad.

Apparently, SPAM can be scrambled, stir-fried, layered, kebab-d, cubed, fried, put in a bun, wrapped, sauced and combined into as many different recipes as there are imaginations. I remember it baked with a mustard sauce or sliced and fried.

What I would really want to see canned forever in a can of SPAM is electronic spam that shows up in your email account. (There’s also spam that shows up on smart phones, too.)

My experience is that even if there’s a spam filter in place on your computer, some dastardly stuff still gets through.

It’s named for SPAM, and that’s a disservice to an entirely edible food product for anyone who’s not a vegetarian.

Just last week, one that was not caught by my spam filter arrived in my email written in a script entirely indecipherable to me. Maybe it was written in Hebrew? Arabic? It wasn’t Chinese.

Tell me, how can that happen?

Electronic spam is unsolicited overtures sent indiscriminately to vast numbers of people at one time. Wikipedia cites "conservative estimates" that say spam accounts for 80 percent to 85 percent of all email in the world.

It costs the senders little if anything to send, but recipients pay for it in the time it takes to deal with it and in the headaches – and more – it can cause.

A great deal of spam contains links to viruses or malicious software.

Some of you may remember a column a few months ago when I detailed the agony of having had my email account phished.

All of my stored email addresses then received pleas ostensibly from me as I was trapped in the Philippines and needed money. I wasn’t, and I didn’t.

Recently, the subject line from one piece of spam informed me: "Seven hundred and Fifty Thousand usd deposited to you from western union. Send your name." (No way, buddy.)

Another: "HELLO. You Have Been Chosen As a Beneficiary to claim 1000000,00 From the Baylord Family." (Right.) Then: "Your MAIL ID won One Million Sterlings in our BritishSplash. reply Name/Town." (Liar.)

"Urgent. I am Mr. Young Chang, I need your partnership in a business transaction worth $18.2m USD." (You dream big, I thought.)

"I have a profitable bus. to share with you," said a different fellow.

He could have been someone called "Mr. Joseph," who asked: "Did you receive my last email?"

Or maybe it was: "from Dr. abu Ahmed, Bill and Xchange Manager, Bank of Africa Development."

I had an "Invitation – Please Complete Your Profile – FROM: Worldwide Registry for British Professionals." (No.)

Finally: "Urgent Response Needed, - Dear Friend, This message might meet you in utmost surprise; however … ." (By now I’m not surprised at anything.)

These people are called spammers, first cousins to scammers, and they, of course, didn’t come to be until the Internet opened to the public in the 1990s.

They comprise a detestable subset of society that thinks creating havoc, lying, defrauding and stealing is an acceptable purpose for a human being.

The best advice is not to take spam personally – as if you’ve been singled out as a sucker – don’t open it for any reason, and don’t send money.

Use it to buy a better spam filter.

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She can be reached at barbm2158@gmail.com.

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