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Monday, January 14, 2013

Mustard Museum


At the beginning of December I flew from Scotland to America so I could spend Christmas vacation at home. While I missed Scotland, it was nice being back in America. I enjoyed watching the sun rise before nine and set after three, I loved being able to have delicious Tex-Mex food again, and re-discovering types of candy I had actually forgotten existed.
One event I did not anticipate enjoying in America, however, was the Mustard Museum. The Mustard Museum, for the few of you perhaps unfamiliar with this great establishment, is located Middleton, Wisconsin, right outside of Madison. It is, would you believe it, the only one of its kind in North America and it has an incredible collection of mustards.
The mustard museum is made up of two floors. Upstairs is the store, downstairs is the museum. The museum is mostly... mustard. A lot of mustard. But there’s also some information on the mustard. There’s a poster which informs you that Canada is the world’s leading mustard producer, a map that shows you which countries in the world produce mustard, and a mustard quiz. There’s Mustardpiece theater, and a wall lined with shelves of mustards from each different state. And, on the day we happened to be visiting, there was also the film crew from a Russian television station.
Alan's mom being interviewed by Russian television
Having a Russian television crew in a mustard museum with one is a rather odd experience. For one thing, it’s already strange to be at a mustard museum. Then, suddenly, there’s this crew filming you as you take the mustard quiz, as you stand next to the costume of the French’s mascot, as you admire the world’s only mustard vending machine.
Above the museum is the gift shop, where one can purchase almost any type of mustard imaginable (and in fact, even a few that you never could have imagined). There’s fruity mustards, spicy mustards, international mustards, sweet mustards, domestic mustards, and even mustard bath salts. In a smaller section one can also buy athletic apparel from Poupon U, the mustard university.
Prize-winning mustards: "pepper hot" category
Lining the walls of the gift store are the prize-winning mustards (there’s overall gold silver and bronze mustards, as well as category winners - sweet, spicy, fruity, etc.) These are judged in a competition held at the museum on National Mustard Day,  (August third) where, in addition to watching the nail-biting mustard-judging one can indulge in free hotdogs, music, and games. However, one can sample any of the different types of mustard (including Key Lime Mustard, which I bought for my mom) for free, any time of the year.
What’s most interesting about the mustard museum is that it was founded by a former assistant attorney general of Wisconsin, apparently after a fit of depression when the Red Sox lost the World Series (again) and he decided he needed a hobby.
Virginia mustards!
Judging by the comprehensive collection in the mustard museum it would seem this hobby has been successful in distracting him from almost everything. However, the Mustard Museum is fun (not to mention free) and even if mustard is not your thing (as I admitted to the Russian film crew, the only condiment I’m really partial to is relish) if anyone ever finds themselves in downtown Middleton WI, I would recommend a visit.  

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