Minnesota is known for its quirky roadside attractions but one of the most interesting spots is located in Austin, Minnesota. It’s called the SPAM Museum – yes, Hormel’s canned meat SPAM. To be honest, I don’t eat or buy SPAM, but considering it’s one of those foods everyone has an opinion about, I thought it would be fun to take a daytrip and find out more about this classic American food. It ends up, this is one of the most interesting (and clean!) museums I have visited – and I have been to my share.
The SPAM Museum is located about 100 miles south of the Twin Cities at 1937 SPAM Blvd – it’s ironic because the first SPAM branded products were made in 1937. The museum is a spacious 16,500 square feet and teeming with history and memorabilia.
When guests first walk in they are greeted by friendly employees, but be sure to turn around and look over the entrance at The Real Great Wall – an impressive display of 3,500 SPAM cans.
After getting the proper guidance for the self-tour, guests can head to the theater (capacity of 42) and watch a feel-good SPAM themed movie. After watching the film, it’s time to cruise the museum and learn everything you ever wanted to know about SPAM – and believe me, there is a lot of information. Displays range from hearing a (simulated) conversation between George Hormel and his son Jay about the company, to the old-time radio jingles to an impressive exhibit dedicated to the war – the WWII Spamville exhibit.
My kids’ favorite section was the Spam Production where they could dress up like factory workers and “package” their own SPAM. Mine on the other hand was the Changing Market Place. It showed the difference between the shopping habits of the 1950’s and today. The comparison was astounding (see photo on left).
And the big question I know you want to ask: Do they serve samples? Yes, they do. Employees walk around the museum offer cubed samples on a pretzel stick (they sure save a lot of toothpicks serving it this way).
On the way out, you won’t want to miss exploring the SPAM-themed gift shop filled with memorabilia and souvenirs galore – including various SPAM products which included Tabasco flavored SPAM.
Visiting the SPAM Museum is free and a fun place for a daytrip. After you finish touring, if you’re hungry, head across the street to Johnny’s Spamarama restaurant. Apparently, the menu is full of SPAM dishes!