Saturday, November 19, 2011

Would You Like to Try a “Spample”?

Editor's Note: This post marks Social Shutter's one year anniversary and what better way to celebrate than with a story about plenty of cans of Spam -- in a museum dedicated to them no less. We are sincerely indepted to all of you who frequent our site, our contributors, and hopefully, many more contributors and viewers on the horizon. Thank you!

Posted by Angie Luvara, AUSTIN, MINNESOTA -- On our recent cross-country trek, my friend and I made a pact not to get so focused on reaching the destination that we miss out on the journey. As part of that pact, we vowed to stop at any roadside attractions that peaked our interest along the way—whether planned or unplanned. To our surprise, our particular route was severely lacking in roadside attractions. Lacking, that is, until just about lunchtime on our third day of the journey…when somewhere in the middle of Minnesota we passed a billboard that read “Spam Museum, next exit”. After a burst of laughter, we quickly decided to capitalize on this scarce opportunity at a roadside attraction.

We soon discovered that the Spam Museum is located in Austin, MN.  We pulled into its parking lot and found one last parking spot marked “Spam” waiting for us. The warm and slightly sour smell of Spam greeted us, as did an elderly man, upon entering the free museum. Immediately we and the other visitors were surrounded by tour guides educating us on both the history of Spam as well as current Spam facts, while waitresses whisked around us offering “Spamples”. Not wanting to be disrespectful to the product that provides jobs for nearly the entire town’s workforce, my friend and I withheld our questions and comments, only to discuss them later in the privacy of her car. Why DO they need to produce tens of thousands of cans of Spam a day? Who actually consumes that stuff? Why does it smell like that? Who would make Spam-acaroni and cheese from that recipe they tried to hand us?

In the meantime we moved on to traverse the “museum” by ourselves. I put quotation marks around “museum” because the small space was devoted almost entirely to propaganda convincing museum-goers that Spam is not meat parts, as rumor would have it, but a tasty, healthy, inexpensive treat that should be enjoyed by all. At the culmination of this propaganda-seum, visitors are funneled straight to the gift shop where they can purchase not only every variety of Spam that is produced (who knew they make Spam with Cheese, Hickory-Smoked Spam, and Spam Hot and Spicy, to name just a few), but also Spam t-shirts, Spam stuffed animals, and even Spam hockey pucks!

Overall, we viewed the Spam museum as a fun, extended bathroom break on our cross-country journey. But I can’t help but wonder about the answers to all our spam questions that we discussed for the next hour of our trip, until we were distracted by our next favorite roadside attraction—energy windmills.

Angie Luvara is a photographer and Managing Editor of Social Shutter. She is also a Doctoral student in Sociology at Georgia State University. To view more of her photography, go to her blog at

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