Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota: Dedicated to This One Cultural Icon

I'd venture that almost everyone's heard of Spam luncheon meat. In fact, Spam is so popular that there's now a museum in Austin, Minnesota dedicated solely to this American cultural icon.

The museum is 20 miles from where I once lived, so my husband and I stopped in while visiting relatives. It turned out to be one of the most interesting museums we've ever seen, with lots of fun and educational exhibits.

As we entered, we were awed by the floor-to-ceiling display of approximately 3,500 Spam cans surrounding a globe, symbolizing Spam's worldwide popularity. Did you know Spam is considered a delicacy in South Korea?

There's also a movie about Hormel Foods Corp., which created Spam, and the history of Spam, which was first introduced in 1937 as Hormel Spiced Ham. The company later held a contest that generated the name Spam.

During World War II, Spam was a staple food item for U.S. soldiers, which is one reason why it's so universally popular. There's a letter on display here from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, proclaiming Spam's importance to the war effort.

The exhibits covered a variety of subjects, and each was very entertaining. We watched a video showing how chefs prepare Spam dishes… listened to old radio shows that were sponsored by Spam… viewed movies of the Hormel girls… tried our hand at labeling cans… and observed the marketing campaigns that made Spam an American icon.

At the end of the tour, be sure to take the Spam exam to see how much you learned. We certainly left filled to the brim with Spam knowledge.

Before You Visit

Austin is on I-90 in southeastern Minnesota, about 100 miles south of Minneapolis. To get to the Spam Museum from I-90, take Exit 178B and go south on 6th Street, turn right at the Hormel Foods plant, then veer to the right at the split in the road.

The museum is open year-round Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. From May 1 to Labor Day, it's also open Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 1-800-588-7726.

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