At century mark, Hormel hymns glories of Spam


AUSTIN, Minn. -- The Geo. A. Hormel & Co. threw itself one humdinger of a 100th birthday party Saturday, with a hot-air balloon, rock music and more cans of Spam, the company's most famous product, than seemed remotely digestible.

It was a day to celebrate how George Hormel, a German immigrant, founded a meat-packing empire whose sales topped $2.6 billion last year. Along the way, the company claims to have invented Canadian bacon, marketed the first canned ham and sent 200 million pigs to hog heaven.

Chilly, windy weather eroded the expected turnout of 5,000 people, but it did nothing to spoil the fun of the hundreds on hand.

For Hormel, it was most of all a day to sing the praises of Spam, albeit just one of the company's 1,600 products. There were Spam breakfasts, a Spam-eating contest, Spam sculptures and a pageant to choose the children who would reign as King and Queen of Spam. Prowling tirelessly about was Spam Man.

The company even revels in the abuse heaped on Spam, calling it "the Rodney Dangerfield of the food world."

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