The SPAM Museum

Friday, August 14, 2009
Albert Lea, MN

How do you "top" seeing the State Capitol of Minnesota? How about the SPAM Museum?

We've heard about the SPAM Museum in Austin for many years, but have never had the chance to visit. My attitude was that it might be very nice but I'm just not going to drive very far out of my way to see a museum dedicated to a luncheon meat that keeps the coronary bypass industry so busy. But with us being camped just 20 miles west of Austin the time for a visit had arrived.

So on Thursday, I popped an extra statin, grabbed the camera, and we headed off on this unique exploration.
From Spam Museum

What we found exceeded my admittedly low expectations. It's a nicely done history of the Hormel Company and it's interesting flagship product, SPAM. The facility is clean and neat. The displays are professionally done and are effective in telling the story. The museum staff was friendly and fun.

Some facts: there are two plants in the USA that produce SPAM, and together they produce up to 44,000 cans per hour! Four other plants around the world also produce it. I had no idea the product was still that popular. It's been produced since 1937, and since that time more than 6 billion cans have rolled off the line. The current production rate adds another billion every 10 or so years.

During WWII, SPAM was a staple for soldiers and civilians especially in war-torn areas of the world. Because it requires no refrigeration, stores for long periods of time, and provides a good dose of calories (not to mention salt), SPAM was important in keeping people fed during very difficult times.

The adjoining SPAM Store is a good place to stock up if your supply of SPAM is running low. And there aren't too many places on this planet where you can get an official SPAM T-shirt.

If you're driving through Minnesota on either I-35 or I-90, take a hour or two and stop at the SPAM Museum in Austin. We enjoyed our visit -- it's one of those places that should be experienced once. And maybe once is enough.



Slightly Better than Most