Oklahoma City has one skyscraper, a couple of large sporting goods stores, a memorial to tragedy and grief, a canal, a part of a river, a presently mediocre pro basketball team, a minor league baseball team, a Ferris wheel and a generic Indian on a domed Capitol, among other things.
And yet, people still call this “flyover country.”
What Oklahoma City requires, it would seem, is a real attraction to make the world sit up and take notice. One need look only as far as Austin for a shining example of what could be here, if only.
Not Austin, Texas; but Austin, Minnesota, and you can get there by taking I-35 north toward the light. Voila, on the corner of N.W. 3rd and Main, it sits: the SPAM Museum.
Nothing to do with unwanted emails, the SPAM Museum is a monument to canned meat — pork, to be specific. A statue of a farmer with a pair of healthy looking hogs stands outside the entrance. Plenty of parking, free admission: What more could a tourist want? Visitors are asked to refrain from eating the exhibits; but that’s the only drawback, if you brought your hibachi and frying pan.
If the children don’t care for the exhibits, there is a 950-square-foot play area in which they may wreak permissible havoc. With the kids out of the way, adults are free to treat themselves to the wonders of the museum.
SPAM is manufactured by the Hormel Food Corporation, and, by golly, the museum has George A. Hormel’s “actual desk,” which visitors can “stand behind.” How educational is that?
Then you can get to the really “hands on” stuff. Don your hard hat and what they call a “frock” so you can get busy learning the six “simple ingredients” that make good old SPAM. Once thus educated, you go to the assembly line and fill a few cans, cook ’em, and slap labels on ’em. What sport.
As a reward for all your efforts, your height (but mercifully not your weight) will be measured for you in SPAM cans. Then you can amaze your friends by saying things like, “Guess what? I’m 34 SPAM cans tall!”
Oklahoma City should look to the Made in Oklahoma Coalition to help out here. Surely we’ve got grub worthy of a tourist attraction. Don’t we?
If not, perhaps Oklahoma City leaders can enlist enough tax rebates and public financing to abscond with the SPAM Museum much like they did with Seattle’s NBA team. There will be a MAPS 5 proposal at some point in the future.
And, in the end, what is MAPS if not SPAM spelled backwards?
A MAPS for SPAM could really put OKC on the map.