SPAM (and not the email kind) has been with us for 80 years. To some it’s a delicacy, to others it’s a culinary disgrace, but you have to admit, it’s a cultural icon. You either love it or you hate it—there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with SPAM. But you don’t have to even like SPAM to get a kick out of the SPAM Museum located in Austin, MN, SPAM’s birthplace and the global headquarters of Hormel Foods. To help celebrate Hormel’s 125 years, the company recently redesigned and reopened the museum.
SPAM was first introduced in 1937 and gained popularity worldwide after its use during World War II. Some G.I.s dubbed it “the meat that failed the physical,” while former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called the product a “wartime delicacy.” According to its label, the pink, gelatinous luncheon meat is made of 6 very simple ingredients—pork, salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite.
The SPAM Museum is dedicated to all things SPAM. Upon entering the museum’s lobby, visitors encounter the SPAM wall, made of nearly 4,000 old cans, before moving on to dozens of advertising exhibits, video displays, and even a Monty Python exhibit, dedicated to the famous SPAM skit. The exhibits and galleries look at SPAM’s popularity around the globe, SPAM’s history with the US military, and SPAM today. There is an exhibit that features a set of bluegrass instruments made of SPAM cans, another a 12-foot SPAM rocket; a SPAM can conveyor is suspended from the ceiling and there is a SPAM children’s play area.
According to Hormel Foods, Hawaii consumes more SPAM than any other state, estimated at seven million cans per year.
Staffed by knowledgeable “SPAMbassadors,” the museum includes vintage advertisements, memorabilia, interactive exhibits and a gift shop where you can pick up a souvenir for the precooked-canned-meat lover in your life. You can explore the museum on your own, or with the help of a SPAMbassador who will share additional facts and information about the exhibits, answer any and all questions that may come up, and also occasionally hand out small bits of SPAM product on a toothpick or pretzel stick, commonly known as SPAMples. The museum staff even hands out maps of the area that show local attractions and points of interest, and specifically lists the restaurants in town that serve items containing the famous product.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”c3bJ5″ via=”yes” ]The SPAM Museum is a slice of Americana. http://ctt.ec/c3bJ5+ @familyvacayus[/ctt]
The museum is located in downtown Austin (only about an hour and a half drive from Minneapolis.) It is a must see in Minnesota.
Another fun museum dedicated to food is the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID.
This fun, quick little recipe is one of my souvenirs from my visit.
SPAM® and Scrambled Eggs
- 1 12-ounce can SPAM Classic, cut into cubes
- 2 fresh chives, chopped, if desired
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- In bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.
- In greased skillet, cook egg mixture over medium-high heat, pulling with spatula to allow liquid to contact skillet surface, until desired doneness.
- Add SPAM Classic to skillet. Reduce heat; gently stir mixture until SPAM Classic is heated thoroughly. Garnish with chives.