Love of SPAM Jam is global

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 1, 2000

To put SPAM Jam 2000 in perspective, consider this: it came with a romantic twist.

Saturday, July 01, 2000

To put SPAM Jam 2000 in perspective, consider this: it came with a romantic twist.

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It happened Saturday, when Carolyn Avery entered the SPAM Rhyming Sign Contest.

She didn’t win, but not for lack of a creative entry.

It was a little long, to be sure, and probably more suitable for a billboard along a freeway or even sky-writing over Montana. Yes, it was long.

But, what it lacked in Burma Shave-variety prose, it made up with heart – and stomach – felt sincerity.

Avery’s entry read: "From northern Maine to the Golden Gates, my dear husband did search for and wait … to find true happiness he searched up and down … ’till he found SPAM and me from Austin-town."

Is Brian Avery a lucky guy or what?

In front of the 20,000 or more SPAM Jam fanatics at East Side Lake Park Saturday, his wife boasted of their love.

SPAM does that to a person, true believers will tell you. It takes a hold of one’s consciousness as well as their appetite.

The 10th anniversary SPAM Jam rolls into the record books as one to remember.

Who won the trip to Hawaii? Who finished first in the 5-mile run? Who outlasted all others to win the 25-mile bike race? Who caught the biggest fish? Who consumed the most watermelon? Who didn’t have fun?

Thanks to Hormel Foods Corporation employees, the SPAM Jam fun was shared by everyone on a beautiful Saturday along East Side Lake.

Brian and Carolyn Avery of Naperville, Ind., have been to six SPAM Jams.

Carolyn is the wife of Les and June Colling of Austin. Her father is a Hormel Foods "legend." He worked for Hormel Foods Corporation for 41 years and was the curemaster, whose name appeared on Cure 81 hams.

Not only is she adroit at rhymes, but she ran in the 5-mile race Saturday morning.

"We look forward to it each summer," said Brian, "It’s a slice of Americana."

He could have been speaking literally about SPAM, which is the most famous canned luncheon meat ever created.

On Saturday, it’s popularity was evident; particularly at a giant map of the United States where visitors were asked to pin their hometowns on the map.

Julie Rudd and her daughter, Jennifer, were giving SPAM cookbooks away to all who registered their allegiance to SPAM and pinned their hometowns on the map.

"Look at where they’re from," said Mrs. Rudd. "We’ve got people here from the Republic of Czech, Ireland, Lithuania, Brazil and Ontario as well as Guam."

SPAM’s popularity is, indeed, world-wide with Hawaii claiming to consume more SPAM per capita than any other place on the globe, but the island of Guam now saying they consume more.

On Saturday, SPAM Jam 2000 fanatics were consuming SPAM in every form and flavor.

But, one delicacy out-sold all others: the SPAM burger.

The Early Risers Kiwanis Club members sold 600 SPAM burgers in three hours time and the volunteers at the grill were worried they had enough to meet the demand Saturday afternoon.

Randy Kramer said the secret to the record sales of SPAM burgers was making a full menu of condiments available this year.

Judy McDonald worked a shift at the Hormel Foods retirees tent, registering visitors. "I had one man here from Bellevue, Nebraska," Mrs. McDonald said. "He worked for the American Can Company, which made the container that held SPAM. He had to come back to see what the excitement was all about."

A registered nurse from Illinois created more than a little excitement Saturday.

Attending their first SPAM Jam were Jone and Arthur Schumacher of Chapin, Ill.

Schumacher’s recipe for Cajun Coconut SPAM Fritters won a national contest and a shopping spree at the Mall of America.

She has been dubbed the "Queen of SPAM."

In Saturday, she gave out the prizes in the local SPAM recipe contest.

Arthur said, "I like it from the start," when asked how Schumacher’s husband rated her SPAM fritters.

And so did American soldiers in World War II and refugees in Europe and Asia, Americans struggling through the Great Depression’s aftermath and their sons and daughters and grandchildren. The whole world, in fact, has made SPAM the number-one selling product of its kind. Billions of cans of SPAM don’t lie.

Maybe, being from SPAMTOWN USA isn’t so bad after all.