Yes, Virginia, there is a SPAM Museum

Author Theresa L. Goodrich presents an excerpt from Two Lane Gems, Vol. 2: Bison are Giant and Other Observations from an American Road Trip. Enjoy!

The only item on our agenda was SPAM. There is a SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota. I think if I had decided to skip this palace of pork, everyone who knows me, would be disappointed. SPAM® is one of those polarizing foods that people love to love or love to hate.

It’s the cilantro of canned meats.

Spam Museum in Austin, MN

SPAM has quite the history. Hormel first produced it in 1937, which proved to be good timing for both the company and U.S. soldiers. More than 150 million pounds of the preserved pork product were shipped to the front, which is how it landed in Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines.

The SPAM Museum has a whole room showing how this product has supported and continues to support the troops. There are lots of interactive exhibits, a section just for kids, and screens of recipes showing the various ways you can use SPAM® in your menu.

We also learned what’s in those rectangular cans. Surprisingly, it’s just six ingredients: pork with ham, salt, water, sugar, potato, and sodium nitrate. If you want a little more flavor they’ve got jalapeno, black pepper, chorizo, teriyaki, and other varieties.

A friend of ours lives near Austin and she met us for lunch. The museum doesn’t have a cafe, so we found a restaurant a block away that had a whole SPAM® menu. We shared chorizo SPAM® quesadillas and Philly SPAM® and Cheese. Both were surprisingly tasty, and I felt better knowing the meat was actually meat and wasn’t just a tin full of chemicals as I’d assumed. Teach me to not look at labels.

Check out this piece on the SPAM Museum for more information.