You might be shocked but the National Mustard Museum was not on the planned itinerary for my time in Wisconsin. The only thing actually on the itinerary was Miller Park, which meant that the other 3 days could be filled with just about anything. So maybe the Mustard Museum isn’t that strange. Ok, maybe it is.
The museum is in a town called Middleton, WI. My friend said it was #1 in one of those best places to live rankings. We wound up there because we were in the area he needed some mustard that they only carry there. Also, I had mentioned I could go for some pie, and there was a diner next door with excellent pie (which was true).
The museum is really a mustard store – mustards from around the world, organized by category (I was unaware there were categories), mustard t-shirts, games, and whatever else you could relate to mustard and sell, and a snack bar where you could buy things that you usually put mustard on. There were also lots of samples with pretzel sticks to try it out.
The museum part is downstairs, they just ask for a donation, and includes some history about mustard (I presume, I didn’t actually read any of the signs), a mustard theater, which must just show movies that had mustard in them, and all the varieties of mustards they could pull together, organized by origin. Here is the Pennsylvania section:
Going in, I had mentioned that there is a very popular variety of mustard from State College that people love so much they ship it all over the place. Sure enough it was available for sale in the store and was represented in the PA section with a Penn State logo jar.
I didn’t mention this while inside, but up until recently I was only into yellow mustard, which I didn’t even notice on the shelves. I therefore would not even pretend to be a connoisseur of mustard. They were very friendly and I was not made to feel inferior for not knowing very much like I’ve felt in some specialty cheese shops I’ve been dragged into by friends.
One issue I have with the vast number of mustards to choose from … I don’t really care for a lot of varieties of things. Let me explain, or try to. I’m a bit of a picky eater. So when I find a food or drink (or condiment brand), I prefer to stick to it. Yes, I realize there might be something better but the road to finding something better is littered with bad experiences. Look at this store, they have hundreds of mustards. In all likelihood, you won’t know that you’ve found your favorite until you are on your deathbed. In the case you do find your favorite, the odds are high that this is the only place in Wisconsin you are going to find that brand. If you move, you’ll spend an amount of time attempting to find that mustard that the marginal taste advantage will be outweighed by effort of the search.
Which bring us to my friend and his mustard of choice. A friend of his brought it back with her from Europe for him. Which begs the first question … why did she bring him mustard? Is he a huge mustard fan? That seems like something I’d have known about him. I believe the mustard was from Bavaria. It isn’t even a domestic mustard! When he leaves Wisconsin in a few years, he’s screwed trying to find that again. Interesting that it is from Bavaria. I don’t know anything about Bavaria, except for Bavarian Pretzels. The obvious question then is … Which came first Bavarian Pretzels or Bavarian Mustard?
Tailgating prior to the Brewers game, I was lucky enough to sample this mustard with the brats. It was pretty good mustard. Not ‘I’m going to run out and find a local specialty mustard store’ amazing, but still, very good.