In 2004, my husband and I were trying to buy our house. (Yes, as you may guess, it is now valued well below what we paid for it.) The sellers had accepted our offer and we were waiting to hear on a closing date. We were already approved for our mortgage. So what is a couple to do? Take a trip out West for a week!
It was the most ambitious trip we have taken to date. We left Michigan by car ferry into Wisconsin. We toured a submarine. We played at Lake Winnebago (Maybe I will write another post on that someday). We camped every other night in our Pontiac Aztek (with optional tent) and stayed in hotels the rest. We panned for gold. We saw the Badlands. We saw the world’s largest prairie dog. We went all the way to Mt. Rushmore. While Mt. Rushmore was awesome, that is not what we remember most from that trip. We remember the fun we had at the Spam Museum.
The Spam Museum is located in Austin, Minnesota. (I always have to think Austin, Texas to remember the name of the town.) We heard about it because my husband saw a brochure at a freeway welcome center. He insisted that we needed to go. I was very reluctant, as I usually am (sometimes unfairly) of his suggestions. I think he probably purposely steered our route through the town of Austin just so we could go there. And we had a flippin’ blast.
The Hormel factory (makers of Spam) is in Austin. The Spam Museum is next door. Now, I was there 8 years ago. So, if you travel there upon my recommendation, please realize some of my information could be dated.
The parking lot spaces were all painted with the Spam logo. A giant metal statue of a farmer and a pair of pigs stood outside the front door. We walked in not knowing what to expect.
We were first welcomed by a statue of the Spam mascot, Spammy. He invited us to take a picture with him. There was also a giant floor-to-ceiling wall of Spam. There was a short movie that plays about the history of Spam. There were audio clips and memorabilia from pop culture and historical (war) references to Spam as well. There was a hands-on area that was quite fun. You could dress up like a worker at the Spam factory. You could see how fast you could can Spam (not real Spam, but a Spam-colored bean bag). My husband and I ran around and laughed our heads off.
They have a huge gift shop at the museum where you can buy almost anything you can imagine, embelized with the Spam logo. We bought a T-shirt, and of course, some Spam. We ate it that night for dinner while we camped at Lake Mitchell (home of the Corn Palace). It totally cured my usual issue of vacation constipation.
We have never forgotten the Spam Museum. We are not real big Spam eaters. My husband will have it occasionally. I mostly love the kitsch factor of it. My husband outgrew the original Spam shirt, so I ordered him a new one from the Spam website (and a pair of sweatpants) for Christmas one year. He handed down the original shirt to me, which, being 8 years old, has now been sewn up about 10 times. Last year, I bought my son his very own Spam shirt for Christmas. We usually do not wear them all at the same time, but someday I would like to get a family picture taken that way. It would be wonderfully cheesy. And maybe we would end up on Ellen or something. Maybe that could be our Christmas card this year. People might think we are weird. But those who know us well already know we are weird.
A few years ago, we went to a friend’s wedding in Minneapolis. We were right near the Spam Museum and hoping for a return visit. But we were on a tight schedule and the timing just wasn’t right. Man, just writing this, I yearn for another long, leisurely vacation like that one we took out West. We really had no plan when we began, but it turned out nicely. It would probably be a very different experience taking the little one along.
So, if you find yourself in Southern Minnesota, for a good time look up the Spam Museum:)
The Spam Museum
1101 N Main St
Austin MN 55912
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