The following is an excerpt from the Annual Board Meeting at the Hormel Foods Corporation
Hello, fellow executives of the Hormel Foods Corporation. I’d like to congratulate you all on a record setting year! Very well founded fears of the apocalypse have really increased demand for our portfolio of shelf stable canned foods, and we have been able to keep up with this demand thanks to the agility, hard work and “can” do attitude that we have always exemplified here at Hormel Foods Corporation. A big thank you goes out to each and every one of you for your role in our success.
We aren’t just here to celebrate, though. We’ll get into our year end numbers in a minute, but there’s something I need to address first. While our increase in sales would suggest that public opinion of us must be very high, I’ve come across some troubling articles on the internet about one of our top selling canned foods. That’s right, I’m talking about SPAM. Our classic canned cooked pork product celebrated its 83rd birthday last year and continues to be our number one seller in canned goods, but it also appears to be one of our most controversial products. If you’ll turn your meeting books to page 15, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Look at the headline of the article: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself From Spam. Do you understand what this means? People think our delicious, canned spiced ham product is dangerous and they need protection from it. Someone is clearly slandering us and spreading lies about the safety of our products. This could be another disinformation campaign from the jerky lobby. Or maybe it’s Big Tuna again? No, not Bill Parcells, the canned fish guys. Rodney, I need the market research team to look into this and see what kind of smear campaign the competition is running. It appears to be a complicated effort, it could be some sort of collaboration between a few groups. We’ve always taken the high road, but we know the kind of mudslinging tactics that the other guys will try. Especially the soup guys. We won’t get dragged into that nonsense, but we sure as hell need to know if they are bankrolling these lies.
Now, turn to page 16. Here’s a post on Reddit titled “How do I stop getting spam?” Are people really receiving our canned meat without their consent? How is this even possible? Are our sales numbers so good because some sort of forced distribution of our products? This is against everything that George Hormel stood for! Charles, I’d like you to form a task group to look into these unsolicited Spam rumors. I know, it sounds crazy, forcing Spam upon people without their consent, but we can’t take these accusations lightly. We need to respond, even if it’s just to show everyone that we take their concerns seriously.
The next 200 or so pages of your meeting book contain similar articles and internet posts. It’s hard to believe, but there were tens of thousands of such posts on the internet that I was able to find in just one evening. I know conspiracy theories are making a comeback, but these are usually at the fringes of society. These anti-SPAM theories seems to be gaining a lot of traction. Legitimate news outlets are picking these up. Hell, here’s one in the New York Times! Whoever is behind this thing clearly has a lot of connections. It might be hard to get this one back in the blue can, but we need to try.
While this is all worrisome, what I’m about to present is even more concerning. People are publishing online guides to “Fight Back Against Spammers”. Turn to page 230 in your meeting book and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. The fact that they’ve come up with “Spammers” a derogatory nickname for the good people at Hormel Food Corporation is a red flag in and of itself. Mary, I’d like you to get the legal team looking into what protections we can offer ourselves against these hurtful terms. Is calling us Spammers hate speech? I know that food workers aren’t a protected group, but see what you can dig up, think outside of the can. I’m worried about the safety of our employees.
Back to the article in question, this and many guides like it are instructing people to give false information to “Spammers” on the phone. We’ve stopped taking phone orders of spam almost 50 years ago, how are these people getting our employees on the phone? Have we had some sort of security breach that released our employees’ personal contact information? I’d like to get IT looking into this. Honestly, aside from the people in this room, very few people at Hormel really even need phones. 95% of our employees are just using our time tested, proprietary methods of turning pork into a delicious, salty and immortal prism shape and safely preserving it in small can where it can last for years without succumbing to the laws of nature.
People are also complaining about an inordinate numbers spam e-mails, sometimes dozens a day. Articles are even saying that people are automatically redirecting our marketing e-mails to a folder called “Spam”, so they don’t need to read them. I’d like to cease all marketing e-mails at once and investigate why we are sending so many e-mails. Last year, we approved marketing’s recommendation to start sending quarterly e-mails to those who gave consent to receive Spam recipes and fun facts about Spam over the years. Somewhere along the way this message got lost, and our marketing efforts are clearly out of hand. This is the kind of snafu that can ruin our reputation as America’s favorite meat-like sustenance brick in a can.
I know, you may be thinking that these recent sales numbers might mean that these controversial tactics are working. Well, think about our reputation, and our history. Think of George A. Hormel, and his team of food scientists. Think of them, sitting a laboratory kitchen, injecting flavor, preservatives and other proprietary chemicals into reconstituted pork shoulder, mixed with other low cost and undesirable pig parts. Think of the food tasters who literally gave their lives in the early days of development and testing! Do you think they would approve of these tactics? Even if you think it is worth it now, think about the future. This pandemic will end, and then where will we be? Public opinion may turn on us even further when they aren’t so dependent on us. I’m worried that we are turning ourselves into a necessary evil.
Us old timers have seen big sales numbers before, try not to get wrapped up in them. It’s always tied to something terrible, usually a war or a radiation scare or fear of the apocalypse, but we all know that these numbers are just short term spikes. Unknown meat giblets mechanically and chemically ground and compressed into something that vaguely resembles a block of dog tongues that is immune to the natural effects of time will never be able to replace real, actual food as God intended it. We need to enjoy the highs, but prepare for the lows and protect ourselves and our reputation from threats like this current anti-SPAM campaign.
Sorry for all the doom and gloom. I know that you were all expecting a celebration of our big year. Well, I assure you that a celebration is going to come! I’ve got the HMS SPAMifore booked for after this meeting. That’s right, we’re having big party on the company yacht to commemorate what was a record setting year. Don’t forget to bring your annual meeting tote bags with you. Inside you’ll find a Nuclear Rapture Size can of SPAM along with a little goodie bag of George Hormel’s favorite white party powder. That’s right folks, cocaine! Now, let me just blast through these numbers and charts and we can get to raging on Albert Lea Lake like we do every year.