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Hormel Has Cow, Er Pig, Over New Muppet Movie Character Spa’am

New York Times

Perhaps the makers of Spam, the much-maligned pork lunch meat, have been the target of too many jokes over the years, but executives of the Hormel Foods Corp. are certainly not laughing at the latest Muppet movie.

The movie, “Muppet Treasure Island,” features a wild-boar puppet named Spa’am who runs amok, and the makers of Spam, which has been around since 1937, have sued in federal court in Manhattan, claiming trademark infringement.

Filed on Friday, the suit contends the character is “a noxious-appearing wild boar.” The meat company, based in Minnesota, complained that Jim Henson Productions, creator of the Muppets, “has intentionally portrayed the Spa’am character to be evil in porcine form.”

Previews for the swashbuckling puppet movie, a spoof on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” began playing nationwide last month with the film “Pocahontas.” The Muppet film is to be released Feb. 16, 1996 by Walt Disney Pictures.

Susan P. Berry, a spokeswoman for Jim Henson Productions, said Hormel ought to lighten up.

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