Fans of The List know we can't resist a story like this; thanks to The Daily Meal (thedailymeal.com) for most of these wonderfully weird halls of gustatory history.
The National Mustard Museum (mustardmuseum.com), Middleton, Wis.
Some might think this condominium of condiments is laying it on a bit thick by describing itself as "home to the world's largest collection of mustards and mustard memorabilia," but we defy any other mustard collection to equal this redolent repository's more than 5,300 varieties from all 50 states and some 60 nations around the globe. Here, too, you'll find esoterica such as the famed Gibbons Collection of mustard pots, along with antique tins, vintage ads and more. Every year on Aug. 6, National Mustard Day, the place offers free hot dogs, spicy entertainment and enough of the yellow stuff to fill the Washington, D.C., Tidal Basin, so this is a Goulden opportunity for a group excursion.
The Jell-O Gallery (jellogallery.org), Le Roy, N.Y.
No, this is not a Bill Cosby vanity project, but an actual exhibition gallery devoted to myriad aspics, er, aspects of America's great gelatinous dessert. Along with vintage packaging and memorable print ads and commercials featuring legendary celebs such as Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Andy Griffith and Kate Smith, you'll find an irresistible gift store stocked with books (such as The Joy of Jell-O Molds), license-plate holders, tote bags, T-shirts and boxers (who wouldn't want to wear underwear emblazoned with the Jell-O logo?). Just follow the Jell-O brick road to picturesque Le Roy in Upstate New York, chill and enjoy.
The Spam Museum (spam.com/games/museum), Austin, Minn.
Here are a full 16,500 square feet devoted to the storied spiced-ham meat product, first concocted here at the Hormel Foods Corp. plant in 1937. Along with the requisite displays of the product's packaging and advertising through the years, there are lots of recipes (e.g., Hawaiian Spamburgers, Spam Tacos, Spambalaya Jambalaya), information on upcoming Spam festivals, Spam trivia contests and more. The gift shop offers items such as Spam travel mugs, Spam air-fresheners (!) and Spam fleece hats (they go great with your Jell-O boxers). Get on their e-mail list, but expect a lot of…well, you know.
The Idaho Potato Museum (potatoexpo.com), Blackfoot, Idaho
We can't say it any better than they do: "The Idaho Potato Museum is a unique museum that appropriately showcases Idaho's Famous Potatoes™. Rich graphics…will lead you through the revolution of the potato industry, from the original potato planted in Idaho to the largest potato chip made by the Pringle's Co. in Jackson, Tenn." Housed in the landmark former Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot, the museum offers stirring displays (including videos) on growing and harvesting, nutrition, potato trivia and more. Bonus: Every ticket purchased by an out-of-stater entitles the visitor to a free box of hash browns. This spud's for you!
Museum of Food Anomalies (hanttula.com/exhibits/mofa)
This web-only museum is part of the broader Hanttula site, which itself defies description (a loose collection of projects such as the Website Blessing Service, where you can obtain a blessing from one of Hanttula's ordained online ministers and receive an "authentic Certificate of Sanctity," and "Inside the Magic 8-Ball," an investigation of what really goes on inside that famous prognosticating toy). MoFA, as it calls itself, offers reader-submitted photos and descriptions of edible oddities such as a green pepper with vampire-like "teeth," a donut with menacing "eyes," a Cheerio with a heart-shaped hole and all manner of foodstuffs bearing the image of a well-known religious figure -- whose name we could barely suppress while looking at some of this.
Sources: The Daily Meal, Meetings & Conventions