We had spent a couple of quiet days just chillin’ out in the heat and sunshine after the hectic driving and tourist schedule of the past 2 weeks. After taking the dogs for a run we were looking for local touristy options that we could visit this afternoon.
Albert Lea didn’t appear to have much, so I checked out Austin MN, on where else, but Tripadvisor. Guess what was the # 1 rated attraction – the Spam Museum, never in our wildest dreams would we have expected to see a museum all about “Spam”.
If that is the # 1 attraction, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the town, or does it !!
Wow, we were totally wrong with our pre-conceived ideas of what to expect in Austin MN, a small town of about 24,000 people straddling the I-90. On departing the campground we took the local country road into town, immediately noting some very nice and well maintained homes and gardens. No collections of rusty cars, etc around these homes, and this was even before we reached the town.
On entering the town we noted larger well maintained homes on both sides of the long, straight tree lined boulevard. Everywhere was spotlessly clean.
A great mixture of homes were present, from newer to older and they also varied by size. Here is an example of one of the larger homes, which just happens to be for sale.
A very well maintained church on one of the main streets close to the Spam Museum.
The Tripadvisor reports nearly all rated the Spam Museum as excellent or good, which piqued our interest to actually go and check it out. Both of us have not so fond memories of choking down Spam as children, yes it even got shipped to UK, so this might actually be enlightening.
Here is a collection of photographs of us outside and also in the entrance foyer
We started the tour with a short propaganda, oops sorry promotional, film all about Spam, how much they produce and the number of countries they export to. On completion of the film you enter the exhibits, which take you from where the family came from, to the formation of the company and all the way to current times. The displays are informative and many are interactive, which maintain the interest of the many kids that visit.
Unfortunately, cropping the photograph to fit doesn’t do it any justice, as at the entrance they have this very well thought out trivia board, using a combination of text and graphics. The graphics on the top line include an outline of USA and 3 cans of Spam. These 2 graphics are included in the first trivia fact that the population of USA eats 3 cans of Spam per second – yikes !!
During WWII Spam was shipped to UK in huge quantities and was the staple rations for the US and the Allied Forces. Andy recalls that it was still available in the UK in the 60’s and 70’s, as he remembers it on sandwiches. This was the first interactive display where kids could pull on the rope to raise the box. Kids had a great time.
The next interactive display was a test packing and labelling station. You packaged the spam into the can, applied the lid and finished it off with a label. The computer then provided the total time you took to complete 1 can, and then advised how many cans the factory produces in the same time.
The end of the museum includes the spam conveyor and a mock store showing the various Hormel Brands, in addition to Spam.
It was definitely interesting and we actually enjoyed the time we spent browsing through the museum and reading the information. Of course, similar to all museums you exit into the giftshop, so Judi made a small contribution.