The SPAM Museum

Food & Drink, Historical & Museum / Thursday, May 30th, 2019

A few months back, I had posted Explore Minnesota’s Minnesota Bucket List. I had nearly every box checked with the exception of the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

During the #MNGFO2019, I was finally able to check it off my list!

SPAM, if you aren’t familiar, is a brand of canned cooked pork made by Hormel Foods Corporation, based out of Austin, Minnesota. It was first introduced in 1937 by Jay Hormel, son of George Hormel, the company’s founder.

SPAM gained popularity worldwide after its use during World War II. SPAM became a fast-favorite of soldiers, world leaders, celebrities, chefs, kids and parents. There is even part of a Monty Python Broadway musical (SPAMalot)!

Did you know there are 15 varieties of SPAM products classic, lite, less sodium, with real Hormel bacon, oven roasted turkey, hickory smoke, hot and spicy, jalapeño, teriyaki, black pepper, chorizo, with Portuguese sausage seasoning, tocino, garlic, with cheese,  mezclita, single classic, single lite, and the classic 7 oz, spread.

After more than 75 years in the market, the love of SPAM has spread all over the world and also remains one of America’s kitchen staples.

Its popularity has grown so much, in fact, that a museum had to be opened.

The SPAM Museum is located in downtown Austin and is admission-free.

With the help of the distinguished SPAM™bassadors (mines name was Justin), the museum exhibits tell the history of the Hormel company, the origin of SPAM, and its place in world culture, and all sorts of other tidbits.

These include Can Central, “the heart of the museum”; the World Market, where visitors can learn about the advertising and use of SPAM and SPAM recipes from 44 different nations; a World War II-themed exhibit explaining the importance of SPAM as a staple for American troops and its wartime mascot Slammin’ Spammy; SPAM Brand 101, an interactive exhibit where visitors learn about 15 varieties of SPAM and families are able to compete in the “assembly” of mock cans of SPAM; and even an exhibit depicting George and Jay Hormel in the middle of a conversation, where it is also revealed that Jay invented “Dinty Moore” stew simply as a way to fill 500,000 empty cans. I know, crazy right?

Along the ceilings are conveyor belts loaded with different SPAM cans that circulate throughout the space.

There is also a kid’s play area that features farm-inspired murals painted by well-known Twin Cities artist Adam Turman spread across three walls.

The SPAM shop also is unique in that you can get all kinds of SPAM products you can’t find in the contiguous US and other SPAM gifts and trinkets.

I know this because I am now the proud owner of a pig with wings shaped stress ball named Slammin’ Spammy who lives on my desk.

Fun fact; the love of SPAM runs deep for some. Mark Benson, a man who legally changed middle name from “William” to “I love Spam,” was married in the Spam Museum. And I know what you are thinking – nope, not a joke. The wedding was even officiated by International Spam Brand Manager Jaynee Sherman.

Is the SPAM Museum on your Minnesota Bucket List? If it isn’t, it ought to be!

The post is brought to you by Explore Minnesota but all opinions are my own. #onlyinmn #MNGFO2019

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