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Something to Celebrate

October 07, 1998

It was 50 years ago that General Mills introduced the instant cake mix. At first available in only two flavors (Devil's Food and Party Cake, which could be made in white, yellow or spice cakes with the addition of various ingredients), the introduction capped more than 15 years of experimentation. Most attempts centered on dry mixes--to which milk, water, eggs or other wet ingredients are added--but there was at least one notable attempt at developing a wet mix, which came in cans. Because of the high demand for metals during World War II, this didn't get far. But think of it: Cake in a Can!

City Ham

John Nagamichi Cho is a researcher at MIT, but even if he discovers a cure for cancer, for some he'll still be best known as the master of one of the Internet's legendary Web sites: the SPAM haiku archives. Now, for the browser-impaired, he's collected the best in old-fashioned book form: "SPAM-ku: Tranquil Reflections on Luncheon Loaf" (HarperPerennial, $7.95). Although he points out that many of the verses are not strictly haiku (technically, he says, they are senryu), they are delicious nonetheless.

"Perfection uncanned

Like a beautiful redhead

Fresh from her trailer."

Or

"Four children later

We run out of things to say.

'Price of SPAM is up.' "

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