It is a sad sign of the times. You return home from a longish holiday, only to find postal spam - much of it old and rotting – covering your doormat. Much of the decomposing meat product will have burst through its brightly coloured envelopes. Some may have attracted blowflies or even rodents. Little, if any, will be edible. No amount of Shake n Vac will put the freshness back. The word “Welcome” on your doormat will have a hollow ring. You rue the day you invested in that second home or timeshare.
The practice of junk mail was thought by many to be bad enough, but direct marketers, influenced by their internet counterparts, started to enclose slices of real, edible Spam in their mail outs late last year, instead of biros. The rectangles of reformed pork product were hailed by the advertising industry as a new way to reach new customers. And there were those who welcomed unsolicited sandwich filling alongside their invitation to buy UVPC windows at discount prices, or to visit a local estate agent or get fibre optic TV. Postal Spam was here to stay. PR Week ran their famous headline. “There is such a thing as a free luncheon meat.”
This was back in the long cold winter, a time when low temperatures and lack of draught proofing meant natural refrigeration, and unattended spam enjoyed a false sense of security. But as temperatures increased, burglars quite literally scented an opportunity, as they stuck their noses through letterboxes across the country. The smell of rancid spam-doormat was a heaven-sent clue – more so than uncollected milk or deceased pensioners – indicating rich pickings. A smelly mini-crime wave ensued.
Now though an enterprising young engineer called Derek Smythe has patented a letterbox Spam Scanning System. If it detects any preserved meat product it locks the letterbox shut, and the offending snack will be returned to sender, as Elvis Presley put it.
Scientifically, the SSS subjects mail to high intensity pork-detection rays, much as an airport scanner seeks out explosives, guns and drugs in the anuses of would-be fliers. Kapersky, Norton and Febreze have all produced a version. It may well be that the summer of Spam will be over before it began, and holidaymakers can breathe easy again.