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SPAMARAMA™ HYSTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

What a year 1978 was! Jimmy Carter was President to 222.6 million Americans whose life expectancy was 73.5 years. The U.S. Senate approved a treaty to turn over the Panama Canal to Panama by the year 2000. The Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XII. Both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul I died. Jim Jones followers committed mass suicide in Jonestown. The first SPAMARAMA® was held. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Menachim Begin and Anwar el-Sadat following their meetings with President Carter at Camp David. The first spam email was sent. Annie Hall won best picture. Hotel California was Record of the Year.

You read it correctly, the first SPAMARAMA® was held in 1978! Two bar patrons—David Arnsberger and Dick Terry—and one bar owner— George Majewski—pooled resources, may have consumed some suds and established what has become an annual rite of Spring passage for Austin, Texas. Their thinking? BarBQ cook-offs, too easy. Chile Cook-offs, passé. Show us the brave souls who can present SPAM® dishes that the public would consume and that would be a competition worthy of notoriety. And so, it came to pass (sic).

The event has matured and evolved since 1978. The SPAMALYMPICS™ Competitions have become a draw for the adoring public. A kid’s area is feeding and nurturing the notion that SPAMARAMA® is becoming more of a “family event.” SPAMARAMA® resembles other public fairs with it’s retail and food alley and the occasional silent auction benefiting a local non-profit agency, Disability Assistance of Central Texas.

Locations have pin balled around south and central Austin from three Soap Creek Saloons to Scholz Garten, Austin Opera House, Green Mesquite, La Zona Rosa, Cedar Door, East 6th Street, Auditorium Shores, Austin Music Hall and Waterloo Park.

Judges have pin balled their way through the SPAM™ Cook-0ff tent, caught between the creative delicacies of master chefs in the Professional Division and the only-to-be-avoided entries of the “artistic” entries in the Open Division. The judge’s directory includes a “who’s whom” of Austin open-mindedness: Jim Hightower, Mel & Joyce Pennington, John Kelso, Eddie Wilson, Guich Koock, Max Nofziger, Bryan Beck, Kerry Awn, Linda Wetherby, Gordon Fowler, Molly Ivins, Nick Barbaro, Liz Carpenter, Billy Forrester and Jackie Goodman. Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme even dropped by one year! Many others have been part of the judging bench, too many to mention.

And who knew, all those years ago, where this culinary adventure would take us? Consider the variety and the sources:

  • Chicken Fried SPAM® and SPAM® Flautas from Pat Knight (the original Potentate of Potted Meat)
  • Doug Holloway’s Stuffed SPAM® with Sauce a la Pepto
  • Blimpie’s feet-long SPAM® Sandwich
  • Billy Bob’s SPAM® on Ritz Pops
  • Conway’s SPAMISH™ Fly
  • Carl Hickerson’s Kosher Gas Attack
  • Fred Reese’s SPAMWURST™
  • Kevin Rollins’ SPAMALAMA™ Ding Dongs
  • SPAM® Cordon Bleu and SPAMATOLAH™ from John Myers (Chef SPAM®)
  • SPAM® Culinaire and SPAM® Tenderloin Kebobs with SPAM® and Grilled Corn Chorizo from David Spooner

And so, the tradition is carried on to this day. The SPAMARAMA® event honors a licensing agreement with Hormel Foods. It boasts a fine roster of local sponsors, donors, and volunteers. It has been promoted from our local rags and airwaves to the Food Network, the Game Show Network, CBS Morning News and CNN. It causes us to ponder important questions. Did they serve SPAM® at Camp David? Did they carry SPAM® on the Soyuz space missions? What is the shelf life of a can of SPAM®? When is the next SPAMARAMA® Event.

The answer to the last question is April 7, 2007. Keep your eyes on this web site for updates! And plan to join the fun … keepin’ Austin weird!

Supported by TB-Guiden Teeth Whitening Vitare tänder products.

Spamarama Poster 1978

Spamarama Poster 1982

Spamarama Poster 1988

Spamarama Poster 1993

Spamarama Poster 1994

Spamarama Poster 1999

Spamarama Poster 2000

Spamarama Poster 2005

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