ImageTo recap a segment of our last issue, longtime reader and FOEE Cybele Parsignault had asked us to conjure a name for unwanted mass e-mail from family and friends — in other words, spam from folks you know, which is an altogether different class of annoyance from ordinary stranger-spam.

We proffered "fruitcake," likening these well-intentioned but unwelcome digital broadsides to mass-produced, implicitly unsavory holiday foodstuffs. But we also asked our readers to chime in. And unlike those yet-to-be-definitively monikered messages that sparked Cybele's inquiry, their suggestions were most welcome.

"Since forever, my term for the endless stream of solicitations, encouragements for li'l cousin Alphonse, who's swimming Lake Erie to raise awareness of some peculiar disease, etc., has been 'jam,'" relates SAP Canada marketing director Patrick Hart. "'Cause it ain't spam, but it rhymes with spam, and it jams up the in-box."

M.L. Browne of Massachusetts, meanwhile, envisions something more ... well, waxy. "Regarding the stuff that arrives in your mailbox that you don't want, from people you don't even really want to talk to, about subjects you don't believe and don't want to know," he writes, "it's not fruitcake; it's Velveeta." Browne even included a helpful list, which for us conjured 9 a.m. pitch meetings with lots of PowerPoint:

  1. It's smeary.
  2. It's filling but leaves a bad aftertaste.
  3. It's something you'd rather not have in your cupboard, but once it gets there, you fail to throw it out.
  4. It's completely without nutritional value.
  5. A little of it goes a very long way.
  6. You never seem to run out of it.
  7. People who give it to you have an unsophisticated palate.
  8. Once you get it in you or on you, it's impossible to get rid of.
"While I like the idea of fruitcake," notes EE client and pal Julie Kahn, "its verb form is rather cumbersome. 'He fruitcaked me' doesn't just slip off the old tongue. How about Cheez Whiz? Then you can get 'whizzed' by someone, which has the bonus double meaning of being ... " Um, yes, we get it, Julie. Your suggestion now puts two solid entries in the faux-fromage column. And you get extra points for considering how to make the term into a transitive verb.


Our reliably witty wordsmith friend B. Kim Taylor brings us "Fluffernutter," and the marshmallow consistency of said treat (and the nausea that too much of it can provoke) rightly conveys certain properties of the aforementioned in-box fluff. But isn't it a little too tasty, under the circumstances?

A new reader, Lorraine Gordon, simply used the opportunity to come clean: "I'm guilty of sending my adult kids the 'protect yourself while you walk to your car at night' fruitcake. No wonder they hate it. Thanks for opening my eyes." As if this disarming admission weren't enough to win us over, she adds: "I'm a former radio copywriter, now retired. Last year I decided to work freelance from home. I'm in such a beginning stage that I don't even have my website written yet, so I'm hoping you two will inspire me. So far, I'm inspired! Thanks from a new fan."

Well, Lorraine, consider us fans of yours. And thanks so much to our brilliant readers for their ideas. Isn't it time to put this to a vote?

(NOTE: If you're prone to seizures, you may want to avoid viewing the poll-results page, which is befouled by an obnoxious flashing ad. Apparently, that's what you get when you're too cheap to pay for polling software.)

What should we call unwelcome mass e-mail
from people we know?
Cheez Whiz