8 JANUARY 2011

WARNING: Ye are about to be SPAMMED like never before!

The Hormel Company based in Austin, Minnesota has been producing SPAM—Spiced Ham—since 1937. This handsome, modern museum explains everything you'd ever want to know about SPAM..... and so much more!

A statue in front reminds us of the source of it all. Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie!

Over our heads as we entered was a vast array of thousands (3500 to be more exact) of cans of SPAM with a globe indicating it's worldwide distribution. What a job of stacking them! The old bit with a grocery store collision between a bungling shopper and a neatly arranged display came immediately to mind as I waited for them to come tumbling down.

We were welcomed by a friendly can with neatly tied shoelaces.

The real stuff sealed in a space-age capsule preserved for eternity.

An old fashioned lunch counter with a lovely 2D waitress. OK, I'm buyin' everyone a round of SPAM!

A dizzying array SPAM products. Perhaps the sandals on the bottom shelf are made of the stuff too!

I guess the idea here is that SPAM and eggs go well together. They're such cute little guys! I hope they don't fall.

A colorful quilt hung on the wall. Do these four little piggies know what they're in for? At least they'll get to travel the globe with the worldwide SPAM distribution.

Overhead a conveyor belt conveyed SPAM as in a factory and threaded us through the museum.

Oh no! A SPAM exam? I haven't been paying close attention to learning my SPAM facts. I have nightmares very much like this. What happens if I don't pass? Will I be condemned to ever wander in the land of SPAM?

I am impressed that they're good natured enough to include a display of the Monty Python sketch on SPAM which does a good job at mocking the stuff.

A menu showing some of the items offered by the Green Midget Cafe in the sketch. Finally the customer Mrs. Bun has to resort to screaming out "I don't like SPAM!"

This collector's edition of a lot of SPAM was inspired by "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". There's nothing worse than those stinky French. Say, I don't think France is on the distribution list of countries where SPAM is sold (see below). I wonder if there's a market. Perhaps if it was made from horse instead of pork. SPORSÉ!

Visitors get to pretend that they are factory workers and assemble a product while racing the clock. Doing this as a game is fun and exciting. The thought of doing this as a full-time job terrifies me. Thank God for machinery!

Worldwide distribution right from here! It is actually eaten in Antarctica but not sold there as there are no grocery stores at which to buy it.

Mapping SPAM distribution. Hmmm, that would be SMAPPING? Why are there counties where it is not sold? Is it illegal? Is there a black SPAM market in those unlucky places?

Everybody was singing "SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM" in the old radio days. So that's where Monty Python picked it up. WCCO is still around today. I don't listen enough to know if they are still singing SPAM.

George Burns and Gracie Allen were in on the act too. Cold or hot...SPAM hits the spot!

Visitors relax and watch how SPAM is served in restaurants world wide. This particular clip showed slices from a block of SPAM being dipped, fried, dressed with embellishments and served up in England.

SPAM is decidedly the winner!

The Hormel Girls danced and played music in the 1940's to promote their products.

SPAM fed the GI's, Tommies, and even the Red Army. We were all allies in SPAM.

That's the question we've wondered about all our lives. Well, if you look at the can and believe it, it's simple: pork with ham (mostly from the shoulder), salt, sugar, and sodium nitrite.

Every good company builds up a mythology about its founder. Here, the ghostly figure of George A. Hormel passes on the company philosophy to his son Jay: "Damn it Jayoriginate, don't imitate!" Apparently at some time George said: "I used to wonder what it would be like to spend a day in the sun with nothing to do but fish." I hope he had the chance. NOTE: I added the "damn it" part to the philosophy for emphasis.

Now, which one to buy and take home for supper....

All good museums must have a gift shop. As a good consumer, I often find it more fun than the museum itself. It's hard to leave without at least one souvenir to remind me and my decedents of our big adventure. Remember back in '11 when we went SPAMMING?

I envisioned this pair of shorts on a shapely young jogger with a swinging ponytail passing me by on a day in the sun when I have nothing to do but fish. When the temperature is 0°F, the jogger and warm sun are equally pleasant thoughts.

There's even a little replica of the museum that lights up and can be added to your "Christmas Village" collection. If they only had SPAM back in Dickens's day. Would Oliver Twist have asked for seconds on SPAM?

Now this was truly amazing. We were loitering at the end of our visittorn between the desire to flee from a sound SPAMMING and fear of the blast of arctic air that would slap us as we opened the door. Then it seemed that all the other visitors were converging at the exit. What was up? A group photo? There was a sense of excitement in the air. Their fearless (I assume) leader raised his arms but he wasn't holding a camera. That meant he was a conductor! The kids came out with an amazing a cappella rendition from "The Marriage of Figaro." Too bad they didn't throw in rousing chorus of "SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM." It turns out that they were a touring choir from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. We left in such a daze that the cold had no impact. They left with no coats and dashed to a heated bus that was waiting to whisk them off after their SPAM Museum premier.

And thus we were reminded as we drove off in the cold, barren, late afternoon January sunset: Austin Minnesota is in reality SPAM TOWN USA. Where else could this be but in the USA?

SPAM Museum Austin Minnesota

Wikipedia: SPAM (food)

Wikipedia: Hormel

Wikipedia: SPAM (Monty Python)