Like most 4th graders, nine-year old Jackson Sizemore from Louisville, Kentucky has a favorite food. Unlike most of his classmates, it isn’t pizza or ice cream or hot dogs. Jackson loves SPAM, and what’s even better is that SPAM loves him back.
Jackson lives with autism, and as him mom Tiffany explains, the list of foods he’ll eat is very short. But top on that list is SPAM. “My husband introduced it to Jackson several years ago. I don’t know how he got him to try it, but once he did, Jackson was hooked.”
Jackson loved SPAM so much he learned to cook it himself, frying it up just right. Last Fourth of July as the family grilled burgers, and Jackson grilled SPAM alongside, Tiffany thought, “I have to let this company know how much this kiddo loves SPAM and how thankful we are for it.” So she wrote a letter to Hormel, the company that makes SPAM, explaining, "My son Jackson has a superpower, and that superpower is called autism. His superpower is so special that he will only eat very super and specific foods. The best of the best is SPAM and only SPAM."
Tiffany admits she didn't expect a response, but the team at Hormel quickly sent out a SPAM-themed gift basket. A couple of weeks later SPAM brand manager Brian Lillis was driving through town on vacation with his family and arranged with Tiffany to stop by for a visit. He brought a full-fledged SPAM party complete with cases of SPAM, T-shirts, sunglasses, a custom-made cape for Jackson, and a chef's hat. Jackson fried up SPAM for his guests, and was thrilled to meet SPAMMY, the meat product's mascot.
But, the story doesn't end there. Just a few weeks ago Hormel flew Jackson, his parents, older brother, and grandparents up to Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minnesota for a week of SPAM-related activities. The highlight was an afternoon at the SPAM museum where the staff trained Jackson to become an official SPAMBASSADOR. He answered guest questions and handed out SPAMples. Jackson even went on stage and took a bow at the company's annual shareholder meeting. He was named Hormel's first-ever Inspired Fan.
The experience was transformative. Tiffany remembers, “Jackson had a blast! I have never seen him carry on a conversation with anyone like I saw those days. It has given him a boost in confidence.”
Brian Lillas agrees, "I think it has really helped him come out of his shell. He's very passionate about being a SPAM fan."
In the meantime, Jackson continues to cook up his favorite food, and his mom continues to give him all of her love and support.
“I tell Jackson that because of his superpower of autism he has super senses,” says Tiffany. “He can hear, taste, feel, and smell things more powerful than most people. I am so grateful that Hormel took time and read his story and could see that Jackson is a superhero for a lot of reasons.”