Spud made his first trip to Minnesota in 2006 in the hopes of meeting the state's patriarch, Garrison Keillor, emcee of the beloved Prairie Home Companion, which Spud had drown up listening to as a tater tot. While he didn't have Keillor's personal address, he knew that he lived in the tiny hamlet of Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. He knew that once he arrived in town, everyone there would know how to reach him.
Sadly, finding the little hamlet of Lake Wobegon proved much harder than expected. 'How hard could it be?' he thought to himself until he pulled out a reference that listed no less than 11,842 lakes found in the state of Minnesota. Growing more despondent, the tater sought help from some local Minnesotans. Now, where does one go to find a large group of people that may know where Lake Wobegon was? Well, a shopping mall of course! The tater scanned his map and found a mall in nearby Bloomingdale: The Mall of America.
As the tato drove into the parking lot, he soon learned this was no oridinary mall. In fact it turns out that the Mall of America was the second largest mall in the United States covering a whopping 258,200 m² (2.78 million sq ft). Inside the potato soon became overwhelmed at the sheer size of the place. The tato wandered down pathway after pathway, through seemingly hundreds of stores, quickly becoming lost in the process. The mall boasts over 500 stores within its walls with plans to double in size with an expansion that would swallow half of Wisconsin. The side dish had entered hoping to find directions to Lake Wobegon, but now he couldn't even find his way out of the mall back to his car. ..
Spud's return visit to Minnesota happened in June of 2013. The tato had since learned that Lake Wobegon was a fictional town, no doubt made up by Keillor so that he could avoid the papparazzi. Instead, this time Spud had researched well ahead of time and knew exactly where he was going: The Pinnacle of Pork Preservation: the hallowed grounds of Hormel: where the mystery meat SPAM is made.
Since 1937 when the canned 'meat' first hit the shelves, it has long been a mystery puzzling scholars the world over, just what exactly SPAM is. Hormel has promoted it as a healthy meat with an amazing shelf life and no need for cooking or refrigeration. The company claims SPAM can be enjoyed years after it is first made due to its 'special packing and preservation technique'.
During the depression and war years, SPAM was an essential staple in most of the US population's diet and soon spread across to other countries, some of which found, like Velveeta cheese product, SPAM could be used as a construction material in building primitive homes.
To try to unravel the mystery behind the ingredients of SPAM and how it can apparently outlive the rest of us, Spud ventured into the SPAM museum in Austin.
Inside he found loads of exhibits and interactive displays about the product, most showing the history of the parent company and its products, the introduction of SPAM, its success and its adoption throughout the world. The secrets to its ingredients were fairly vague though, saying it consisted 'mostly' of hog shoulder. Spud wondered what the other bits may have been...(lips...prostates, arm pits...)
could not resist the gift shop and walked out with a Hot n Spicy version
of the canned Delicacy as well as a spongey stress ball in the shape of
the can. Ironically, the sponge has the same consistency and no doubt,
the same nutritional value as the real thing.