Why ‘Lunch Meat,’ Anyway?

Posted June 11, 2014, under Gee Whillickers!

While Rigney Graphics has been putting out an email newsletter for over a decade now, it wasn’t always called “Lunch Meat.” When you think about it, that’s kind of a weird name, isn’t it? What the heck could lunch meat possibly have to do with a graphic design company?

Well, prior to October 15th, 2004, the self-satirical name for the Rigney Graphics company organ was the same as the term for unsolicited junk email — everyone knows the word, and sees or uses it daily.

Particularly if you’re one of these guys, whose oddly prescient 1970 skit spawned the association of the word with annoying, unwanted repetition.

In the heady early days, the newsletter enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame. There were people who knew us only as “the guys who do that newsletter.” We were stopped in the street, begged for autographs, besieged by groupies….

Okay, it didn’t quite go that far. But a lot of people were reading, and we may or may not have let the regard go a little to our heads.

The original text was…less than complimentary.

Our egos were further boosted when Karen E. Kline, a Businessweek columnist, contacted us to interview our Head Kahuna, Bruce Rigney. The resulting article raised our profile even more.

That’s how we got the attention of the Hormel® Food Corporation, the original purveyor of canned, precooked meat product – and holder of one rather critical trademark.


Whoops

So, on October 15th, 2004, we put out an edition entitled “R.I.P.,” under the newly minted banner of “Rigney Graphics Lunch Meat.”

RIP

As we wrote at the time:

You may be asking “Why?” Well, because of our purely irresistible urge to not just push, but shred, the envelope of PR and marketing. Because of our constant drive to blunt the very cutting edge itself with our design tracks. And because of some trademark laws and a cease and desist letter from Hormel Foods Corporation®, makers and trademark holders of SPAM® Luncheon Meat.

Hilariously, the flap lead to another article with Businessweek, this one not so much singing our praises as offering a cautionary tale.

While Hormel Foods Corporation was graciously willing to let us re-write our own history and pretend we’d never messed up, we elected instead to own it, and fashioned a new name and branding for our newsletter that simultaneously serves as a nod to our roots and a reminder that one can never be too conscientious.


Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.