Da Vinci, Picasso, Van Gogh, Warhol…Sure, you've seen a lot of artistic masterpieces. But maybe it’s time to expand your cultural horizons. How? There are bizarre super-niche museums around the globe dedicated to all types of foods (SPAM! Fries!) just waiting for you to explore. Think of these food shrines as building-sized obsessions that are well worth diving into—and let's hope there are plenty of free samples.
1. Jell-O Gallery Museum
Been dying to know the complete history of the jiggliest food known to man? You’re in luck—the Jell-O Gallery Museum in Roy, NY, is more than ready to school you on the colorful past of the even more colorful dessert. And get ready for molds, lots of molds. Just don’t expect to see the one-time Bill Cosby exhibit on display anymore...
2. SPAM Museum
If you’re going to hit up a museum that celebrates canned meat, might as well make it the one that’s been dubbed the “Guggenham” in Austin, MN. The SPAM Museum’s 16,500-square-foot shrine to the iconic pork product is packed with old-school ads, memorabilia, photo ops, and less-than-typical activities. (Who’s up for canning some meat?)
3. Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum
If your passion for ramen is so overwhelming that you’ve actually dreamt of ramen theme parks, there’s a museum for that. The brilliantly noodle-obsessed minds in Yokahama, Japan, have erected a three-story homage to the ubiquitous “everyman” food. The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum has one floor dedicated to the complete history of the dish (17th-century samurais couldn’t get enough), and two floors featuring a full-scale replica of Tokyo’s old town at the start of the ramen boom in 1958. Oh, and it also houses nine restaurants serving up different types of regional ramen, so come famished.
4. Idaho Potato Museum
Humble museum or humblest museum? Housed in a former railway depot in Blackfoot, the Idaho Potato Museum is an ode to the unassuming tuber that so epically enhances our lives/plates. Feast your eyes on the world’s largest potato chip and a potato signed by Dan Quayle, then learn all about how Idaho came to be synonymous with the simple spud. Sour cream is optional.
5. Pizza Brain
How about some kitschy history alongside your slice? Attached to an actual pie-slinging joint, Pizza Brain in Philadelphia is a decidedly non-stuffy museum that boasts the earth’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia (and that’s according to Guinness World Records, making it obviously legit). So, synchronize your watch with the pizza clock on the wall and start exploring…
An entire museum dedicated to fries. Need we even say more? Despite the whole “French” part, Belgians have laid claim to inventing the French fry, so it’s not exactly shocking that the Freitmuseum in Bruges celebrates the wonder of the mighty frite. Stroll through exhibits examining the worldwide history of everyone’s favorite fried potato. And yes, there will be samples.
7. National Mustard Museum
The free tasting bar is just one reason to check out the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI. There are more than 5,600 bottles of the star condiment on display (seriously), and you can watch mustard-themed films in the Mustardpiece Theatre before you learn how to cook with the spicy stuff and then admire collections of ultra-fancy mustard pots. Maybe just don’t mention the k-word while you’re there…
8. Museum Kimchikan
Some may lament that there just aren’t enough museums devoted to fermented foods, but luckily the good people of Seoul are doing their part with the Museum Kimchikan. Kimchi is serious business there (literally and figuratively), with kimchi-making classes offered to all, plus a library chock-full of academic papers and reference materials analyzing every aspect of the beloved pickled cabbage.
9. Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute
Technically, you don’t need to be a pepper to visit the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, TX (where the iconic drink was born), but it probably doesn’t hurt. Located in the company’s former bottling factory, the soda shrine has a fairly massive collection of soft-drink memorabilia that dates way, way back—not restricted to only Dr Pepper, although it obviously has the starring role. The museum also houses extensive exhibits on advertising and branding as part of a celebration of free enterprise economics (which is where that seemingly-random “institute” part comes into play). In other words, expect extra-heavy learning.
10. Deutsches Currywurst Museum
The people of Berlin really, really love currywurst, a street food that’s essentially sliced sausage drenched in ketchup and dusted with curry powder. In fact, they’re so fanatical that there’s an official Currywurst Museum honoring the fast food staple. The sausage-curious visitors can visit the spice chamber to sniff out their preferred style, listen to songs about currywurst on a ketchup-bottle-shaped phone, and create their very own virtual version of the dish. And to answer the inevitable question, of course there’s a giant currywurst mascot (named QWoo, to be specific).
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