Visiting the SPAM Museum, Austin MN
By John Roberts
Los Angeles, California
October 12, 2017 8:59am CST
“Spam and eggs Spam and sausage Spam! Spam! Spam!” Some of you will remember the old Monty Python sketch. George Hormel established his meat packing company in 1891 in Austin, Minnesota. The small city remains Hormel headquarters. The company’s best known product SPAM was introduced in 1937 and an immediate success continuing to this day. Containing God knows what unhealthy ingredients, SPAM was considered a cheap poor people’s food for decades until being somewhat “gourmet” running close to $3 a can. The SPAM Museum is located in downtown Austin in a shiny building painted in the distinctive SPAM colors (mainly yellow). Everything SPAM is here. The product has come a long way from the original. Today’s SPAM features an endless variety of flavors. The museum’s centerpiece is Can Central literally showing stacks of cans of SPAM varieties. This is multimedia area where you can email SPAM recipes to yourself and leave comments. A moving can conveyor belt runs overhead. A work area explains how SPAM is made (like they will reveal what really goes in) and you can play working on an assembly line. The most interesting area relates company history as George Hormel settled in Austin and started a packing plant in an abandoned creamery. His office has been recreated. Vintage wood and tin containers were once used for the company’s original products pure lard and pork fat. The company’s fortunes took off under the direction of Hormel’s son Jay. Not only did Jay introduce SPAM but also Hormel chili con carne, Hormel canned ham and Dinty Moore beef stew. Vintage cans of those products are displayed. SPAM as k-ration during World War II is shown. A large colorful section is World Market. SPAM is hugely popular outside the US in countries like the Philippines. Special varieties are produced for Japan and Latin America. Hawaii has its own SPAM. A screen playing a continuous loop of the Monty Python sketch is next to a poster of the stage musical “Spamalot.” Admission is free to this big advertisement but no free samples. You can buy all the SPAM in a can and gear you desire in the gift shop.
19 people like this
Spam fed American troops during WWIi, my 85 year old mother to this day keeps repeating the story of a close relative's house where SPAM was made into steps similar to stairs, brought by American soldiers when liberation was near since some of her relatives fought with them, it fed a lot of hungry civilians so we patronize SPAM, Hormel and all their products.
• United States
Good lord, spam has a museum! That is interesting, I think I am the only person in this area that actually likes spam....or even knows what it is. Spam fried in maple syrup was one of my favorite snacks. For some reason all I can think of now is dr seuss green eggs and ham....