• Food for Thought Friday: Museums for Foodies

  • by Lauren Russell

We found something better than playing with your food. Now you can learn about it, interact with it, and ogle it from behind a glass display case.

Bored at lunch one day, one of our team members Googled the history of Jell-O and found out there was a museum devoted entirely to the popular dessert. It got us wondering, what other food museums are out there? After some research, we compiled a list of some of the best museums in the U.S. that focus on specific food items.

National Mustard Museum – Middleton, WI: Mustard fans will love the world’s largest collection of mustards and mustard memorabilia. And visitors on a budget will love the museum’s free admission. The collection features antique mustard tins, old mustard ads, and more than 5,600 mustards from around the world – including all 50 states.

Jell-O Museum – Le Roy, NY: Located in the birthplace of Jell-O, the Jell-O Museum helps guests learn the history of the jiggly treat, including when it was invented, why it was sold for $450, what happened to the Le Roy factory, and what’s the most favorite flavor (we’re betting on strawberry). Visitors will also see such artifacts as original advertisements, toys, spoons, and art.

Dairy Shrine – Fort Atkinson, WI: Tourists who visit the Dairy Shrine will learn about the history of ice cream and how dogs can churn butter. They can watch a pioneer dairy man milk his cow or peruse a collection of dairy artifacts that includes milk stools, butter molds, and cow blankets. They’ll also be able to peruse a library filled with dairy related books if they want to learn even more.

Pez Museum – Orange, CT: For anyone who has ever been ecstatic to get a plastic cartoon head on a stick that dispenses candy, the Pez Museum is for you. Housing the largest collection of Pez memorabilia on public display, the Pez Museum is also the place where Pez is made. Guests can view the candy production through windows and video monitors of the manufacturing area. There’s also an interactive Pez timeline, trivia games, and of course, a Pez store.

Burnt Food Museum – Somerville, MA: This quirky museum was born from a cooking failure that turned a pot of hot apple cider into a free-standing “drink” better known as “hot apple cinder.” Museum curator, founder, and contributor Deborah Henson-Conant fills her museum with such culinary disasters as blackened waffles, charcoaled pans, and almost unidentifiable charred toast. Though the museum has gained popularity from appearing on “The View,” Food Network’s “Unwrapped,” and NPR’s “The Weekend,” it may be almost impossible to visit. It remains a private exhibit that opens to the public on rare occasions only.

Pizza Brain – Philadelphia, PA: It’s hard to believe, but the world didn’t have its first pizza museum until 2012, when Pizza Brain opened in Philadelphia. Guinness World Records even certified that the museum has the world’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia, which extends from the usual toys, pizza cutters, and ads to such unique items as a 1990 pizza drop plinko arcade game and a collection of records that contain lyrics that honor pizza. If the memorabilia from the museum makes you hungry, just order a slice from the artisan pizzeria that’s attached to it.

SPAM Museum – St. Austin, MN: After 12 years of exhibiting the infamous curated meat, the SPAM Museum is undergoing a makeover. It will open back up to the public in spring of 2016, but we thought we would mention the museum so you can be ready to go when it opens.

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