Archived Story

The countdown: Top stories of 2012, No. 5-1

Published 10:12am Tuesday, January 1, 2013


3. Hormel Foods celebrates 75 years of Spam

Sir Can-A-Lot greeted visitors to the Hormel Corporate World Headquarters in July during the Spamtastic Grand Opening Expansion Celebration.

Almost every Austin resident knows spam is much more than unsolicited emails from Nigerian princes, it’s also the spiced ham responsible for shaping the town’s past 75 years.

Hormel Food Corp.’s Spam luncheon meat celebrated its 75th birthday on July 5, 2012, and the company even brought in Motown legend The Temptations on July 28 to acknowledge the milestone, and at the same time show the public its multi-million dollar corporate expansion.

Spam — which Monty Python parodied in a famous 1970 comedy sketch, spawned its own museum in 2001, and became synonymous with unsolicited emails — first propelled the company to international success during World War II and is a big part of the company’s image today.

“I think we’ve just been woven into the American fabric of traditions,” said Nicole Behne, Spam brand senior product manager, earlier this year. “That really helps us stay relevant.”

Along with its place in popular culture, Behne credits family recipes and nostalgia as reasons for Spam’s continued success.

“If you look at our strong history, people pass down recipes, and there’s just that emotional response to the brand,” Behne said. “People have this great emotional connection, and I think that really is a great part of what we are.”

While the 2008 recession hit much of the country hard, Hormel has steadily increased profits each of the past four years, thanks in part to its low-priced, iconic brand, Behne says. Though Spam is only one of many products in Hormel’s grocery division, the company has cited the canned meat as reason for the division’s success in recent years.

A catalyst for that growth, aside from the recession, has been a marketing campaign Hormel launched in the past few years. The company created the Spam spokescharacter Sir Can-A-Lot — a parody of Monty Python’s Spamalot — for TV and Internet advertising, made a serious social media push and revamped its website,, which scrolls up and has more than 3,000 recipes, according to Behne.

 — By Adam Harringa

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