By Julianne G. Crane
The SPAM Museum honors the iconic canned meat that was first created in 1937 by George Hormel’s company in Austin, Minnesota. But, it was World War II and the need for an easily transported, shelf-staple protein that fueled SPAM’s “incredible growth around the world.” Today, with more than a dozen varieties, SPAM is on the menu in 44 countries. More than 141 million cans of “spiced ham” are sold every year.
In this free attraction, visitors can play with interactive exhibits or walk through more traditional displays. Each area tells part the Hormel family’s story from emigrants in the late 1800s to their current billion-dollar company.
In normal times, the museum brings in 100,000 visitors a year from all over the world. However, “during COVID the museum’s crowds, hands-on displays, and free pretzel-spread, were too much of a risk,” so the staff introduced virtual tours. Although the museum reopened its doors in January 2021, the Zoom tours continue.
So, if you do not think you will be making it back to Minnesota anytime soon, you might want to opt for a free live virtual tour. They are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. Central time and by appointment. The Zoom access code for the tours is 910 5801 6682. Or, you can schedule a live tour for another time or ask questions by email at email@example.com.
“The SPAM® brand was a centerpiece of affordable family meals during the Great Depression and other economic downturns,” according to the Hormel Foods website.
My mom was not the most creative cook, and as a single working mother of three in the 1950s, she needed simple, tasty and nutritious meals to put on the table. SPAM was frequently the answer. While our meals were not exotic, there were never any leftovers.
Today, Hormel Foods includes more than 50 consumer brands such as Skippy peanut butter, Dinty Moore stew, Black Label Bacon and Corn Nuts. There are thousands of Hormel Foods recipes available online for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert by clicking here.
If you go
101 3rd Avenue NE
Austin, MN 55912
Open daily, Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
SPAMbassador Jeff says there is plenty of room for RV and bus parking less than a block from the museum. For the SPAM Museum’s Parking Map, click here. The map also lists nearby attractions and restaurants in downtown Austin.
Minnesota’s autumn color
If you plan on traveling through Minnesota, “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” this autumn, check out “Rainbow Routes: 10 Fall Color Drives in Minnesota.”