I was about to write that there aren't that many "National" or "World" museums here in Flyover Country but that's not exactly true. There are a bunch within 100 miles of where I sit, claiming to be the preeminent exhibit for garden seeds, bobblehead dolls, and maritime sailors, to name a few. Nearly all of them are third rate touristy traps smaller than a family home, thus as a rule I do not waste my time there.
The National Mustard Museum near Madison, WI is not a huge place, either, and it is a tourist trap. But it's a first rate tourist trap, at least I think so. Primarily, because I love the savory tang of mustard. It is run by the former Assistant Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin, who claims he had a mustard epiphany while arguing a case before the Supreme Court of the whole damn USA with a jar of mustard in his pocket. He was a small time mustard collector, so he was compelled to pocket a small room service mustard jar from his hotel on his way to court. He felt this proved his devotion to the yellow condiment, and soon after he opened the museum. His purposes were twofold: to display his collection as well as market locally made mustards to the public.
If the canister is rusty, don't try to taste the mustard within
Currently the museum boasts over 5,000 individual mustard artifacts from over 60 countries. The floor space is split 50/50 between historical exhibits and the mustard shop, where local as well as international varieties of mustard such as sweet hot, fruit, cheese, pepper, horseradish, and spirit mustards can be sampled and purchased. Samples are set up throughout the shop floor as well as available on demand at their Ultimate Mustard Tasting Bar.
It's not self serve - I found out the hard way. If you go, please ask for assistance.
At various times, special dishes made with mustard are featured
Admission is free, and the mustard prices are reasonable. I'm pretty sure the owner is there most of the time at the register, and he rings the mustard bell for everyone who purchases a mustard item. Do I have a favorite? Are Richard Hammond's teeth unnaturally white?
Ringhand's Beer Mustard, Brooklyn, WI
Ringhand's Beer Mustard! Produced by a Wisconsin State Senator, artisanally, in Brooklyn! Brooklyn, WI, that is. She describes it as 'sweet, spicy, sour, horseradish flavored best tasting mustard' and yeah, that's perfectly apt. This is the secret to me eating my veggies at dinner!
The chances that you, yourself will find yourself in Middleton, WI, driving past the National Mustard Museum are slim. But, if so, you must stop. I promise a good time! If you aren't going to be there, you can visit their online store.