Love it or hate it, (almost) everyone's heard of SPAM.  And if you're from Minnesota, you definitely know that I'm not talking about unsolicited junk emails.

One of Minnesota's iconic food brands is celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2022.  SPAM first made its debut on grocery store shelves in 1937, and all of these years later, the canned meat product in the familiar blue cans with yellow printing is still readily available - and in more varieties than ever.

Hormel Foods To Purchase Skippy Peanut Butter From Unilever
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It's also probably one of the most under-appreciated grocery items, too.  For whatever reason, SPAM has developed an incorrect identity:  some people see the food as somehow being "fake" or "not real"; nothing could be further from the truth.

While specific recipe and processing details remain a company and trade secret, we do know that SPAM is made with pork shoulder, ham, salt, water, modified potato starch, and sodium nitrate.  While you might be able to cast a judgmental glance its "high content of fat, sodium, and preservatives", you definitely can't say that it's "not real".

But back to the history.

The official SPAM company website shares interesting details about the food product and it's history.

  • 1937:  SPAM was introduced by the Hormel Foods company.  It's name was created by a family relative of the companies vice president at the name - for which he claimed a $100 prize.
  • 1941:  Hormel Foods shipped more than 100 million pounds of SPAM to the allied troops in WWII.  This event helped solidify the canned meat product into the lexicon of American food tastes.
  • 1959:  The one-billionth can of SPAM was made.
  • 1970:  The two-billionth can of SPAM was made.
  • 1971:  Hormel introduces the first of many flavored SPAM products to come - when the Hickory Smoke and the SPAM with Cheese varieties arrived in stores.
  • 1980:  The three-billionth can of SPAM was made.
  • 1986:  SPAM Less Sodium arrives in stores for the first time.
  • 1991:  The SPAM Museum opens in Oak Park Mall in Austin, Minnesota - helping to celebrate the 100th anniversary of parent company Hormel Foods.
  • 1992:  SPAM Lite arrives in stores, containing 25% less fat and 25% less sodium that SPAM Classic.
  • 1992:  The SPAM-burger Hamburger makes it's debut on television ads for the company.
  • 1994:  The five-billionth can of SPAM was made.
  • 1995:  SPAM sponsors car #9 on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
  • 1998:  SPAM packaging is donated to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
  • 2000:  SPAM Hot & Spicy variety debuts in grocery stores.
  • 2001:  SPAM Museum moves to the Hormel Foods Corporate Office in Austin, Minnesota.
  • 2004:  SPAM with Real Hormel Bacon and SPAM Single Classic cans are introduced to grocery stores.
  • 2007:  The seven-billionth can of SPAM was made.
  • 2012:  SPAM Teriyaki and SPAM Jalapeno is introduced.
  • 2012:  The eight-billionth can of SPAM is made.
  • 2012:  Hormel Foods introduces the SIR-CAN-A-LOT character as a spokesperson in marketing campaigns.
  • 2014:  SPAM with Tocino Seasoning is introduced to grocery stores.
  • 2015:  SPAM with Portuguese Sausage Seasoning in first introduced to grocery stores, inspired by the Hawaiian Islands where SPAM is very popular.
  • 2016:  The SPAM Museum moves to a location in downtown Austin, Minnesota.
  • 2019:  SPAM Pumpkin Spice first arrives in grocery stores.

The website also details some pretty interesting bits of trivia about the company and the food product.  While some of these items are random and seemingly trivial in nature ("The canjo is a banjo made using a SPAM Brand can" anyone?), there were some interesting items that you might not have known:

  • 12.8 cans of SPAM are consumed every second
  • SPAM is sold in 44 different countries
  • There are 13 different varieties of SPAM products
  • Hawaii eats seven million cans of SPAM every year
  • Guam residents eat an annual average of 16 cans of SPAM per person
  • In Southeastern Asia, SPAM is given as a luxury gift

Reviewing some of these facts about SPAM makes you wonder how the food product got the reputation that some have assigned to it.

SPAMERICAN Tour Kick-Off Hosted By Sunny Anderson
Jerod Harris

While you can find SPAM readily available at the grocery store, the museum in Austin, Minnesota provides a fun destination stop that's readily accessible with days drive to Northlanders.  The museum is located at 101 3rd Street NE in Austin.  They also have an interactive company website and a large presence on Facebook.

Hormel Foods To Purchase Skippy Peanut Butter From Unilever
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