Friday, February 7, 2014

"And it was all yellow": my visit to the National Mustard Museum.

Here are three words I never thought I'd say together: National Mustard Museum.

Jared is my best friend from summer camp, and when he made his first ever trip to the state of Wisconsin, I knew I had to show him a variety of my favorite Madison activities. And let's face it: the city is multifaceted. Delicious falafel from Banzo, skating on a frozen lake at Tenney Park, and dancing the night away at Plan B to Madonna's "Girl Gone Wild" were some of my favorite parts of his visit, but the weirdest part of his visit would certainly be the mustard.

In 2012, my parents visited Madison to help me move into my condo. During their time here, they went to the National Mustard Museum: a quirky, kitschy, lovable, free museum in Middleton (on the west side of Madison). Mom insisted that Jared and I experience the place together, and who wants to say no to mom? Not Jared and me. So the mustard excursion began.

Boasting a "Learn, Taste, Shop, Laugh," mantra, this place is exactly what it sounds like (and it doesn't take itself too seriously, either). Home of the world's largest collection of mustards and mustard memorabilia, the National Mustard Museum pays homage to America's yellowest condiment. 

Why is there a National Mustard Museum? The answer to this question, I still do not know, but what I can say is that the place was certainly unique, and I'd recommend that anyone who passes through Madison needs to see it for themselves at least once. But just in case you aren't passing through any time soon, here are some highlights:

Decked-out walls with mustard-themed art and comics:

Books of vintage mustard advertisements:

Mustards from around the world:

These shelves are alphabetized and labeled with mustard from all 50 states. 
Close-up on my home state of North Carolina.
A display devoted to the mustards of Canada. 
A vending machine for instant mustard gratification:

Oh, and an empty mustard mascot costume.

We made a new friend.
It was everything I'd expect a mustard museum to be, really. And after a plethora of free samples, I settled on a souvenir:

Maille (pronounced "my") dijon mustard, now at home in my kitchen. According to a museum employee, this is a highly celebrated mustard that won the Worldwide Mustard Competition. Yeah, not only is there a mustard museum, but there's competitive mustard making. For real.
Jared is one of my best friends, and he traveled over 1600 miles to visit me. That's what good friends do anywhere. Spending an afternoon learning about the history of mustard? Well, in Wisconsin, I guess that's what good friends do, too.

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