No Harm Done

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam!

Would a trip to Minnesota be complete without a trip to the Spam Museum?

Well......yes, actually. It would. But nonetheless, we felt called to make our drive home even longer by stopping in Austin, Minnesota for a tour of the Spam Museum.

Marc's brother worked for Hormel several years ago, and we loved visiting his family in Austin. They have since moved away, and we haven't visited the city since. So it was with a small degree of nostalgia that we exited the interstate and followed the signs that promised a "spamtastic time."

The Spam Museum is free, and very well done. The Hormel company certainly has a great sense of humor about this product, and so the information and displays were informational, but the overall tone of the museum was light and fun. The kids had a great time, and I'm pretty sure we'll stop there again in the future.

When we first walked in, we were greeted by the mascot Spammy.

One of several helpful tour guides talked with the kids, and then asked if they'd seen the Giant Wall of Spam. "Only in a nightmare, "I thought. But the tour guide had the boys turn around, and pointed out the Wall of Spam over the front door.

There are over 3,500 cans of Spam on that wall, and the globe spins around displaying a large star over Austin, MN. We learned that if you ate one can a day, the wall of Spam would feed you for nearly 10 years!

The exhibits are all very visual and most have some sort of audio/visual component that helped to hold the little boys' attention. We found a "puppet" show hosted by a Gracie Allen sound alike. This show briefly highlighted the history of Spam.

Another display covered the history of the Hormel company itself. The kids enjoyed listening to a couple of mannequins that simulated a conversation between George Hormel and his son Jay.

The boys are exiting a giant simulated can of Spam (complete with key!!) that showed the progression of labels over the years.

We found exhibits with old radio commercials (from the Burns and Allen days), a wall of screens that continuously played Spam television ads from over the years and from around the globe, another wall with giant print ads from over the years. There was a tribute to Spam's contibution to the World War 2 war effort. We liked the documentary on the Hormel Girls, a group of female musicians who travelled around the country promoting Hormel products.

Of course, my favorite was a "diner" with a large tv screen (held by a Viking, of course) that played the Monty Python's Spam skit. This was Braden's first chance to see it and hear the song. Click on the links in this paragraph and you can listen to the song. (The green link on top will download the song. The text is printed on the page.)

The area where the boys spent the most time was a large interactive display showing how SPam was made. Every step was detailed, there were clothes and helmets to try on, chain mail gloves to try out, and a game to teach you how to pack Spam yourself. The boys had to take an empty can, put Spam inside (a pink bean bag), add a lid, cook it, add a label, and stack it in a tray. Timers were available to compare yourself to an actual packer at the Austin plant.

The conveyer belt at the top of the photo wound through the entire museum and carried over 800 cans of Spam.

After we got home the kids begged to buy Spam from the store on our "refilling the cupboards" shopping trip. While the museum was definately a hit and was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us, the actual can of Spam was....... not. Everyone tried a bite, but only Colson ate all of his.


At 10:29 PM , Blogger Lori said...

woah... spam... yikes...

I posted my paper... yeah... :-(

At 10:38 PM , Blogger Nicky said...

mmm, deeelish!
Great seeing the Harm family today! (:

At 11:23 PM , Anonymous Melissa said...

It's sad. When I saw the title, I was picturing a museum in honor of email spam. I totally forgot about the original Spam!

My bro-in-law, in his single days, joked about driving from state to state and stopping at all the little or unusual museums and writing a quirky museum guide. I think the Spam museum would have made the cut. Does sound fun!

I'll have to email you later...

At 12:27 AM , Blogger Dy said...

Now wait - how did you serve the spam? It's delicious fried up and served with crackers and cheese. Or cut thick and served as spamburgers. And over at Soli Deo Gloria you can get a rockin' recipe for Spam Musubi!! (Yes, sushi-spam.) Ok, we like spam...

BIL even once made a spam pig to take to a potluck. It was a great sculpture, made entirely of spam and toothpicks. Huge hit, although admittely mostly for the novelty. :-)

This was a fun virtual tour, and I was SO glad you linked the Monty Python skit. The moment I began reading your post, I had that song in my head, so imagine my delight to find it included. Ahhhh. I don't feel so weird now.



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