Having spent a good portion of my life working in the travel industry, food museums are places that I happen to know something about. I unabashedly admit to traipsing across American and visiting my fair share of them. Other than being positively entertaining, the experience taught me something too. If humans eat it, there is a good chance that there is a museum somewhere that is dedicated to it. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the best ones:
Burnt Food Museum
Remember all those burnt pieces of toast and charcoal looking meals that you made when you were first learning to cook? Well, you should have saved them and made a donation to the Burnt Food Museum in Rockport, Massachusetts. It wouldn’t have garnered you an end-of-year tax deduction but it may have made you feel better to know that at least someone appreciated your efforts. The museum contains such exhibits as “Kruncheroni ‘n Cheese” and “Deep Fried Disaster.” The museum was founded by the musically talented, and apparently not so culinary inclined, Deborah Henson-Conant. Tour times and admission fees vary.
International Vinegar Museum
There are some people that take the power of vinegar seriously. So seriously in fact, that an entire museum in Roslyn, South Dakota, is devoted to the stuff. It is called The International Vinegar Museum and the sheer size of the vinegar bottles on display just boggles my mind. In addition to the exhibits, visitors may also opt to watch a cooking display. The museum traditionally opens in June and remains open until Labor Day. Hours of operation and cooking exhibits vary. As such, I’d suggest calling ahead to verify all details.
The Hastings Museum in Hastings, Nebraska, has an ample section of its facility devoted to one of my favorite, childhood beverages; Kool-Aid. My favorite part of the exhibit is the Kool-Aid Man costume display. That thing graced so many television commercials shown in my youth that just a glimpse of it makes me down-right nostalgic. It reminds me of a time when setting up a summer beverage stand didn’t require a permit and even a 7 year old could be an entrepreneur for a day. The museum is open year round and hours of operation vary. Admission prices tend to start at $5.00.
Vidalia Onion Museum
The Vidalia Onion Museum is located in Vidalia, Georgia. It is a charming museum that devotes itself to one of my favorite onions, the Vidalia. I was more of a red onion fan until I moved to Georgia. Now the Vidalia is one of the staple items on my grocery list. It is as flavorful as the museum’s interactive exhibits indicate. The facility is usually open Monday through Friday. Oh, and if you ever find yourself passing through the area in April, make sure you make time for the Annual Vidalia Onion Festival. The onion eating contest is always a hoot to watch.
Southern Food and Beverage Museum
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. I adore the place because of my connection to the food and beverage industry. The museum has an entire section called the Museum of the American Cocktail. It’s devoted to exploring the history of mixology. There are also exhibits on coffee, sugar and of course, southern cue. After all, what would a museum dedicated to southern foods be without a section on barbecue? It is generally open daily, year round. Hours of operation vary and admission prices start at $5.
Killeen Gonzalez has a degree in hotel and restaurant management. She worked in the tourism industry for many years but has since retired from it.
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