Spam hits the road with tour; Roadtrip to connect Hormel brand’s chefs, fans

Published 10:37 am Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spam Marketing Director Nicole Behne, left, and Product Manager Jen Nolander stand next to the 2011 Utilimaster food truck that will tour 12 cities across the U.S. on the Spamerican Tour, which kicked off Wednesday in Los Angeles.  -- Jason Schoonover/

Spam Marketing Director Nicole Behne, left, and Product Manager Jen Nolander stand next to the 2011 Utilimaster food truck that will tour 12 cities across the U.S. on the Spamerican Tour, which kicked off Wednesday in Los Angeles. — Jason Schoonover/

Austin’s famous canned meat is hitting the road.

Hormel Foods Corp.’s Spam brand kicked off the Spamerica Tour Wednesday in Los Angeles as a way to bring the canned meat to fans.

“This is a way for them to really engage one-on-one with the brand, which is exciting and fun,” said Jen Nolander, product manager for the Spam brand.

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The tour will feature a Spam food truck stopping in 13 cities — 12 official tour stops — starting with the Los Angeles trip, which lasts through April 20, and will include a stop at the Toyota Grand Prix. The tour wraps up at the Taste of Chicago July 8-15. However, the truck will stop at the Austin ArtWorks Festival on Aug. 22.

“We’re going to bring the tour to town for a day here so that the folks here in Austin can get a flavor for what the Spamerican Tour is all about,” Nolander said.

A key part of the tour is interacting with fans and bringing the product to them. The Spam food truck, a 2011 Utilimaster, will be the center point of the tour that will feature videos on Spam and the tour, chefs with Spam recipes, a Spam history wall, fun facts about Spam, music and more.

Hormel also commissioned a Denver company to build Spam-themed instruments that will be played throughout the tour, starting in Los Angeles with a performance by Pert Near Sandstone, a Twin Cities-based band that played at Marcusen Park during last August’s ArtWorks Festival. A band is set to play the Spam-themed instruments at this year’s ArtWorks Festival, but the band hasn’t been announced.

Artists are creating posters for each stop on the Spamerican tour, and there will be an Austin poster and a Minnesota poster.

‘All about the food’

Over the years, Spam product leaders have seen an increase in the number of restaurants featuring Spam in dishes on menus, according to Nolander. Each stop on the tour will feature a local chef talking about ways they’ve used Spam products to help inspire ideas for how others can use it in their own recipes.

“It’s all about the food, and it’s all about the chefs who are featuring the food,” Nolander said.

“We’re also paying homage to those chefs who’ve been so good to us over the years,” she added.

Spam is partnering with Food Network chef Sunny Anderson, who created a Coconut Spam Spears with Spicy Pineapple Chutney dish that will be a mainstay on the menu throughout the tour.

“For many years now, I have been a fan of the Spam brand,” Anderson said in a press release. “Its flavor and versatility lends itself to so many different cooking styles and recipes. The Spamerican Tour brings together such a unique curation of Spam dishes and is a celebration of the iconic taste that Americans and chefs, like myself, have grown to love.”

Nolander said they hope the chefs interacting with fans will inspire some new recipes.

“We know that Spam fans love to get creative with the Spam brand, and so we’re taking this truck across the country to celebrate the creativity and inventiveness of our fans,” Nolander said.

Engaging Spam fans

The tour is a way to engage and interact with customers that’s different from traditional commercials and advertisements. Organizers are looking for Spam fans to join the fun and share pictures from their experiences with the Spamerican tour to Twitter or Instagram using #Spamcan. Hormel will hold a competition during the tour with the grand prize being a trip to the 2016 Spam Jam in Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Hormel is without its Spam Museum after the old one closed last year to make way for a new museum downtown between Second and Fourth Avenues on the east side of North Main Street. The new museum should open next spring or summer.

“It’s a way to get the Spam brand out in front people and in front of our Spam fans since the museum is being renovated right now,” Nolander said.

Once the tour is complete, Spam Marketing Director Nicole Behne is excited to bring a taste of the tour home to Austin for the festival.

“Sharing with the town of Austin how much everyone else loves Spam will be a really exciting part,” Behne said.

“Sometimes we forget. We think, ‘Oh, it’s Spam,’ but really there are people that are such fanatical fans and loyal fans,” she added.

To follow the tour or for more information, visit People can also visit and post using #spamcan at,, or @Spambrand on Instagram.

Sunny’s Coconut Spam Spears with Spicy Pineapple Chutney

Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson, 2015

Makes 10

Sunny's Coconut Spam SpearsFor the Chutney

•1 cup crushed pineapple

•Juice of 1 lemon

•1/2 cup turbinado sugar

•1/4 cup white vinegar

•1 teaspoons mild yellow curry powder

•1 teaspoon kosher salt

•½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

•1 teaspoon cornstarch

•2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts (plus more for garnish)

For the spears

•1 12-ounce can of any SPAM (classic, black pepper, or hot n spicy)

•1/2 cup all-purpose flour

•1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

•1/4 cup cornstarch

•Zest of 1 lemon

•1 egg

•2/3 cup soda water, ice cold

•A pinch of salt

•Peanut oil, for frying

1. Make the chutney. In a small sauce pan on medium heat add the pineapple, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar, curry powder, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook while stirring until the pot begins to bubble a bit, then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of warm water. Stir until smooth. Pour this mixture into the chutney. Stir to incorporate. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Once cool, stir in the scallions (remember to leave some for garnish!).

2. Prepare the spears. Fill a large pot or deep fryer with peanut oil, leaving a few inches at the top. Bring the temperature to 375 degrees. Cut the Spam in half lengthwise and then cut each half into five long spears. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, coconut, cornstarch and lemon zest. Add in the soda water and egg. Dip the spears into the tempura batter and slowly lower the battered spam into the fryer. Let fry for 5 minutes or until brown and crispy. Remove to a sheet tray lined with a wire rack. Serve the Spam spears with a side of Pineapple Chutney.