6 One-of-a-Kind Food Museums You Have to Visit

From potatoes to popcorn, these are some of the nation’s most interesting and eclectic cuisine-based collections.

By
Jessica Walker Boehm
On Thursday, January 30, 2020 - 07:00
CA

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again.

These six bizarre food museums across the U.S. will likely pique your interest, not to mention your appetite. And there’s a good chance you’ll be surprised by what you learn when you visit.

idaho

Courtesy of sporst under a CC 2.0 license.

1. Idaho Potato Museum

Whether you prefer yours fried, mashed, baked, boiled, steamed or roasted, chances are you like potatoes – who doesn’t? And you probably associate potatoes with Idaho. After all, the potato is the official state vegetable of Idaho, and the state supplies more than 30% of the potatoes consumed across the U.S.

So it makes sense that Idaho has a museum dedicated to the starchy staple. The Idaho Potato Museum, located in the historic Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot in downtown Blackfoot, teaches visitors about potatoes and the history of the potato industry through exhibits, murals and short films.

There’s even a Potato Lab where guests can conduct hands-on experiments with spuds. Those looking for souvenirs can explore the gift shop, which has an array of potato-themed items – including potato soap made with potato starch and Mr. Potato Head toys. And, of course, there’s an onsite cafe serving up dishes featuring Idaho potatoes.

Admission to this spud-tacular museum costs just $6 for adults, $3 for children ages 5 to 12, and is free for children age 4 and under.

mustard
Facebook/The National Mustard Museum

2. National Mustard Museum

One of the world’s favorite condiments is on display in downtown Middleton, WI, at the National Mustard Museum.

The museum boasts the largest collection of mustards and mustard artifacts and memorabilia on the planet, showcasing more than 5,600 jars of prepared mustards from across the U.S. and beyond. Visitors can also explore an expansive gift shop filled with unique mustards from around the globe and other gourmet goodies.

The fun doesn’t stop there. The National Mustard Museum hosts the World-Wide Mustard Competition annually, which features 16 categories of mustards for the panel of judges including chefs, food writers and mustard enthusiasts to taste and score. The museum also hosts National Mustard Day each year, a family-friendly event that draws thousands of attendees and features a free mustard sampling along with music, entertainment and more.

Admission to the National Mustard Museum is free, and it’s typically open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

3. International Banana Museum

If you love bananas, you won’t want to miss out on exploring the International Banana Museum in the California community of Mecca. Located in a bright yellow building, the small but mighty International Banana Museum is packed with 20,000-plus banana-related photos and memorabilia. The museum features stuffed bananas, a banana-themed turntable, banana jewelry and much more, making it home to the world’s largest collection devoted to a single fruit. The eclectic museum also has banana costumes in various sizes for guests to try on – perfect for those looking for a fun (and almost certainly unforgettable) photo.

Be sure to come hungry as the International Banana Museum offers a tasty selection of banana-themed treats. Try the chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, homemade banana ice cream, chocolate-banana milkshakes and banana-flavored sodas.

The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $1 for both adults and children (but is waived for those who purchase a treat or souvenir).

marion
Instagram/insaaneizzey

4. Wyandot Popcorn Museum

One of only two popcorn museums across the globe, the Wyandot Popcorn Museum in downtown Marion, OH, has the world’s most expansive collection of restored popcorn antiques. The circus-themed museum complete with a 14-foot circus tent displays dozens of popcorn poppers and peanut roasters, some of which date back to the turn of the century. The museum even lays claim to a 1909 horsedrawn popcorn wagon with a driver’s seat that was one of two wagons used by The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Visitors will also find an impressive collection of Cracker Jack toys and memorabilia. And don’t forget to grab a bag of free popcorn on the way out.

Ready to see it for yourself? Hours of operation vary seasonally, so be sure to check out the museum website before you go. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for children ages 6 to 17.

5. Jell-O Gallery Museum

You’ve probably eaten this popular dessert, but how much do you really know about Jell-O? For a closer look at this wiggly, jiggly treat, you’ll want to check out the Jell-O Gallery Museum in LeRoy, NY, where Jell-O originated in 1897.

The museum highlights Jell-O’s history, sharing little-known tidbits like the four original flavors – strawberry, orange, raspberry and lemon – and how the brand expanded to offer more than 60 flavors today. Visitors can also see Jell-O commercials that have aired over the past several decades, along with vintage Jell-O advertisements created by famous artists such as Norman Rockwell, Coles Phillips and Maxfield Parrish. The museum also has a play area for kids and a gift shop stocked with Jell-O souvenirs like t-shirts, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments and toys.

Operating hours vary for the Jell-O Gallery Museum; visit the museum website to plan your visit. Admission is $5 for adults, $1.50 for children ages 6 to 11, and free for children age 5 and under.

cheese
iStock/semakokal

6. National Dairy Shrine Museum

The National Dairy Shrine Museum in Fort Atkinson, WI, highlights the U.S. dairy industry’s rich history and gives visitors a look at how it has evolved into the $628 billion industry it is today.

Through a multimedia series of displays and exhibits, the National Dairy Shrine Museum takes guests back to the 19th century. Discover the methods used to make products like milk, cheese and butter (including the dog-powered butter churn). Then, learn how modern manufacturing practices enhanced both the quality and availability of those products. Visitors can learn more about dairy cows, too, and how industry leaders plan to help dairy production become more eco-friendly and sustainable in the future.

The museum also features the Joe Eves Library that has more than 850 dairy-related books. It’s also home to the National Dairy Hall of Fame, which recognizes those who have helped establish today’s dairy industry, including producers, scientists and educators.

Admission to the National Dairy Shrine Museum is free, but donations are accepted. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

This story first appeared on our sister site, Farm Flavor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Walker Boehm is a journalism graduate of Belmont University and has been a regular contributor to Livability.com since 2010.