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A Journey Through the Minnesota Spam Museum

Updated on November 18, 2014

Come Along and Visit the Minnesota Museum of SPAM!

The SPAM museum is a Minnesota landmark dedicated to the Specially Processed American Meat phenomenon. Visitors from all over the globe have stopped to see this unique piece of history. SPAM was a lifesaver for many during World War II when food was scarce. Not just for Americans but also for Russians and many other war-struck countries. The place which has been most impacted by SPAM is the American state of Hawaii. During the war SPAM made such a difference that you can now find it in everything from sushi rolls to cakes on the islands of Hawaii.

So what exactly is this wonder food known as SPAM? And what is it like to experience the museum in person? This lens is all about the journey through the SPAM museum. In this lens you can also find a variety of products ranging from clothing to actual cans of SPAM to fulfill all of your hidden SPAM desires. Now on to the journey...

Spam Museum - A Minnesota Landmark

The SPAM museum resides in the city of Austin, Minnesota. Within its walls you will find the most spiced pork artifacts of any place in the world. You will learn about everything from what actually goes into a can of SPAM to its role in WWII. The museum owners wanted everyone to enjoy this meat-filled experience so they have made admission FREE. Now that is some awesome SPAM generosity!

The HIstory of SPAM - Get More From the Experience

SPAM has become world-famous for its fascinating history and 'mystery.' If you want to learn more before, after, or regardless of visiting the SPAM museum then these books will help you on your SPAM journey!

The Massive Wall of SPAM - SPAM greets you!

Built in 2002, the SPAM museum still looks absolutely brand-new. You walk through the clean doors onto a spotless floor and are awed by a rising wall of 3,390 cans of SPAM. I was so impressed I shot this photo of it.

After staring in awe, specially chosen "Spambassadors" lead the way into the museum. Many are past employees of Hormel, the company which makes SPAM and headquarters in the same city as its museum. They proudly roll out more than 44,000 cans of SPAM per hour in plants all across the world.

Once you are fed this tidbit of meat-filled information, they open the grinning pig doors to a little theater where you are treated to a fifteen minute video on the wonders of SPAM. Then it's time to enter the "SPAMburger" alley where a SPAM burger patty (4800 times life-size) hangs over head. You are off to begin your journey into the true world of SPAM!

What is SPAM? - Pig, spices, and a little mystery

Specially Processed American Meat (SPAM) is the mystery of all mystery meats. I shot this photo on what is actually in it. I apologize for the poor lighting so I will tell you what the picture says. SPAM is made of all different parts of a pig with a little water, secret spices, and some hidden 'stuff.' I was amazed to learn SPAM is actually cooked right in its own can on the assembly line. No wonder they can produce so much SPAM in a single hour! It goes into the can, gets cooked, and its off to be sold around the world!

The Unique Flavors of SPAM - There's a Flavor For Just About Anyone

The SPAM museum offers just about any type of SPAM you can imagine but I do not recommend buying it there (sorry). We bought my brother a can only to discover how it was much cheaper outside of the museum. Amazon is probably one of the cheapest places to purchase SPAM so if you are into trying something new, check out these SPAM flavors!

Spam, Jalepeno, 12oz Can (Pack of 6)
Spam, Jalepeno, 12oz Can (Pack of 6)

We purchased this one for my brother only to find out it was about three dollars cheaper outside of the SPAM museum.

 

SPAM in WWII - It was Important!

SPAM was first produced in 1937, before World War II, and not as a response to it. When World War II broke out, so did an explosion of SPAM production. The troops needed protein from meat but without refrigeration, all their meat products would spoil. SPAM solved the problem. Nonperishable, easy to ship, and a great source of protein.

SPAM was not just for U.S. troops (I'm posing with one in this picture), it was also huge with the Red Army. The U.S. shipped hundreds of cans of SPAM to help aid the Red Army in their fight against the Germans. Such a great source of meat was highly valued by the Russians and was as helpful as ammunition or gasoline to the cause. SPAM also helped make a huge difference in places like Hawaii where food started to become scarce. The Hormel product could be used in so many different ways and so became a staple of their diets.

A Hawaii CookBook all on SPAM - Hawaiians even have a SPAM festival!

Hawaii Cooks with Spam: Local Recipes Featuring Our Favorite Canned Meat
Hawaii Cooks with Spam: Local Recipes Featuring Our Favorite Canned Meat

I recently saw a Bizarre Foods America (with Andrew Zimmer) on Hawaii. He was introduced to the local love for SPAM which included SPAM sushi and even SPAM cake for dessert. If you are feeling, SPAMventurous then give this cookbook a try!

 

Lifting a Case of SPAM - I Tried it!

At one point in the museum, they ask you to 'lend a hand' in doing what many troops had to do, moving whole boxes filled with SPAM. They must have developed enormous strength toting around all that SPAM because I couldn't even get it off the ground!

You can also see a billboard of the 'Slammin' Spammy,' the mascot of WWII SPAM which featured a scowling pig lobbing a grenade. Before leaving the World War II area you will hear a vido-projected GI saying, "We're grateful to have SPAM. It's not steak but it's good meat." I'm not sure if every GI felt exactly the same way but I did not mention the question to one of the "SPAMbassadors" and moved on to the "Can Chronicles". They are a timeline of how the cans of changed since their first days in production to the modern cans of today.

SPAM assembly at Hormel - You can try it too!

You will notice a constant assembly line of SPAM (velcroed on to avoid accidents) in the SPAM museum. One of the interactive parts of the place is actually trying to can SPAM on the assembly line. Before doing so you can 'suit up' into the plant's outfit. I did it mainly because I was working at a power plant at the time where I also sported a hard hat (who knew it was so handy?).

Canning SPAM is a lot harder than you think and made more difficult by the fact that in the time of your poor attempt the robots making SPAM have already created hundreds. You can also see a "Global SPAM" map which blinks at the countries where SPAM is consumed, forty-one to be exact. Much of Polynesia is also joining the SPAM parade as no need for refrigeration means it won't spoil in the heat.

The SPAM tasting Cafe - Free SPAM!

Not only are you learning about the history of SPAM you also get to taste Hormel's famed product. "SPAMbassadors" offer samples on pretzel sticks to eat at the mini cafe area. I abstained as SPAM was not on the Hormel gluten-free list and neither are pretzels. My father's reaction was one of childhood remembrance whereas my mother looked absolutely horrified at eating something so processed. Much to my surprise, she did actually try it!

I had to edit this picture as I do not include pictures of my parents in my squidoos. I am sorry there is so little to see but I did want to include some of the cafe area.

Books on Cooking with SPAM - There's more to life than SPAM burgers

My dad grew up on eating things like SPAM burgers. Before seeing the Bizarre Foods show I thought that was about it for SPAM cuisine. I could not have been more wrong! SPAM can be used in cooking to make just about anything.

A Little History on Jay Hormel - The Man Behind the SPAM

I can't remember what the Viking had to do with SPAM but I do remember learning about the history of SPAM and it's creator. The product was actually the highlight achievement of Jay Hormel, the son of company owner George Hormel. One of the exhibit features the two figures at the moment where the company exchanged hands. You can hear a voice recording saying:

George: I'm getting too old to run this company. It's time for you to take over the business.

Jay: What will you do with yourself if you can't come into the office every day?

George: Your mother and I are moving to California. We built a bigger house in Bel Air.

Jay: You always liked California. And we all knew this day had to come.

Once Jay had the company in hand, he redefined it and changed the world's view on meat. He was creative and once used a 20 piece Mexican-song-and-dance troupe, known as the Hormel Chili Beaners, to promote his chili con carne. Jay's hard work led to a meat breakthrough, known to us today as SPAM.

Fun & Odd SPAM Products - Go SPAM crazy!

When my sister visited the museum (at a different time than us) she bought SPAM wrapping paper. So for Christmas all our gifts were literally wrapped in pictures of SPAM! There is more to SPAM than just wrapping paper or clothes, here are some novelty SPAM items.

Monty Python and SPAM - SPAM in song and skit

One of the things you will hear is the Monty Python SPAM song (now I remember why the Viking guy is in the SPAM cafe!). Below is the SPAM video complete with skit, song, and Vikings.

Monty Python's Spamalot

Monty Python's Spamalot: 2005 Tony  Award Winner - Best Musical
Monty Python's Spamalot: 2005 Tony Award Winner - Best Musical

Remember Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail? If you do not then see it or check out the famed, Spamalot. You know your product is famous when it gets featured in a film!

 

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