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Article | April 30, 1998
Rectangular Spam cans upgrade to BOPP labels
For those of us who can remember the 1950s, being "spammed" has taken on new meaning. This is not something that affects the twentysomething and younger crowd much.
When they grouse about "spam"-those unwanted solicitations that clog up their e-mail boxes-they may have no personal familiarity with Spam® luncheon meat the product from which electronic junk mail derives its name. A recent Alta Vista search of the Internet shows that more than 238 web sites reference "spam." By the time you read this the official Spam Internet site should be up and running at www.spam.com. For the millions of us who were born in earlier generations however the word "Spam" conjures up a nostalgic image of tiny luncheon meat loaves coaxed out of key-opening-rectangular tinplate cans. Introduced by Hormel Foods Corp. (Austin MN) in 1937 Spam and its rectangular cans were pantry staples for a generation of Americans who spent many post-World War II school lunch periods enjoying Spam sandwiches our mothers had wrapped in waxed paper and packed into our lunch boxes. The Spam can was among the first-and still among the most recognizable-proprietary-shaped cans in the U.S. market. Long before Coke got the notion to use a special can shape to reinforce its brand identity Spam was doing it. The product and its package have become international icons particularly popular in the Japanese market. But if you look closely at today's Spam can you'll see it's a lot different than the ones of our childhood. For openers the 7- and 12-oz Spam cans-produced by Crown Cork & Seal Co. Inc. (Philadelphia PA) and Silgan Containers Corp. (Woodland Hills CA)-now incorporate full-panel ring-pull easy-opening ends. The 21/8 x 37/8" cans are now made of aluminum in place of tinplate steel. They incorporate a gold exterior finish and a clear food-grade interior coating. This makes Spam one of the few foods to be packed in aluminum rather than steel cans. Making the Spam cans even more unusual they are three-piece units with seamed-on aluminum ends. The cans themselves are "brights" with a pair of vertical ribs "spanked" into each of the broad facing panels to give them added strength. For several months Hormel has been test marketing-and is now in the early stages of a national rollout of-high-gloss laminated biaxially oriented polypropylene labels for the cans. Replacing lithographed cans the applied-label strategy gives Hormel the flexibility to more closely tie package production to product sales while reducing warehouse space needed for the various Spam SKUs. The brand is now believed to be in the early stages of a national rollout with the new label. These cans represent the first U.S. roll-fed labeling application for rectangular can shapes. The BOPP labels are pulled tightly around the rectangular cans and adhesively fixed in place using roll-labeling equipment from both Krones Inc. (Franklin WI) and KHS Carmichael (Dortmund Germany). The nine-color labels carry process color photographic illustrations of various menu suggestions for the product on the front panel recipes on the back and UPC codes and nutrition information on the side panels. Salem Label Co. Inc. (Salem OH) converts the Aerowrap® labels using film stock produced by Applied Extrusion Technologies Inc. (Peabody MA). What's happened to Spam's packaging is an object lesson in the subtle advances that can be applied to mature products to enhance their market appeal. Coincidental though it may be sales of Spam are up since the new labels began to appear on shelves. c
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