Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam -- Where It All Began

Hey kids, believe it or not, there was spam long before the Internet! And now these leaner times have, shall we say, enhanced the appreciation of many for the canned processed pig known as capital-s Spam, churned out by the Hormel company in Austin, Minnesota since 1937 (though in many places the enthusiasm never really went away -- especially in the Asia/Pacific part of the world, where since the 1940's it's even earned an enduring place in local cuisines of places like South Korea, the Philippines, and Hawaii). It was given a pop-culture boost more recently with the Broadway, West End and road-show success of Monty Python's Spamalot. And fans of mystery meat, kitsch, and Americana can practically roll around in the stuff in Austin's Spam Museum, a seven-year-old multimedia production right across the street from the Hormel factory, a drive of two hours or so south of Minneapolis. As you'd expect, right from the wall of cans in the lobby, it's a hammy Spam-apalooza, including exhibits and a film detailing the product's place in 20th-century history (especially World War II); an assembly-line mock-up you can have a go at yourself; cooking demos; and of course samples (spamples?) handed out on toothpicks. The place is doing brisk business these days, we hear -- proving that this at least is one message many folks may never want to delete.

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  • My mother served us Spam when I was a little girl during and after World War II. I believe that naming junk email after this "meat" was a good idea, but I would certainly visit the museum!

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