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Whatever you like to eat or drink now, used to enjoy when you were a kid, or heard your parents talk about with nostalgia, there’s probably a museum dedicated to it. Food museums are a delicious choice. Some are small and quirky, while others offer super-sized advertisements for the brand they showcase. But all are fun, even informative—and some offer free admission. Here are 7 we love to check out now.

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SPAM Museum: Austin, MN

Long before it became the default word for unwanted emails, SPAM was the pork product of choice in the ’30s for cash-strapped survivors of the Depression. It then gained popularity around the world, thanks to WWII servicemen who shared the canned rations. Depending on which story you believe, the letters stand for SPiced hAM or Special Processed American Meat. The museum is full of SPAM stories, history, recipes and games like measuring your height in cans. Austin is about 90 minutes south of Minneapolis, and it is just a coincidence that the world-famous Mayo Clinic is even closer, in nearby Rochester.

Idaho Potato Museum: Blackfoot, ID

Idaho Potato Museum

Idaho Potato Museum | Flickr CC: David Goehring

Potatoes are the world’s fourth largest food crop, and Idaho’s most important export. If you want to know how spuds are turned into fries or dehydrated flakes, or how the Incas did it, find out in this little museum housed in a historic building that once was the Union Pacific railroad depot. Displays include peelers and mashers and the world’s largest potato chip, and the café serves a potato-based menu including fries, breads and cupcakes. Blackfoot is 30 minutes north of Pocatello.

National Mustard Museum: Middleton, WI


National Mustard Museum | Flickr CC: Bobbbylight

If you like mustard on your SPAM or fries, you’ll find more than 5,000 jars of the stuff here, at least one from every state in the USA plus from a couple from a dozen other countries. The selection includes the sweet mustard Bavarians use on delicate veal weisswurst, the hot mustard used in Uruguay to flavor meat stews and fish soups, and a 1933 tube of Coleman’s Pic-Nic Mustard from Britain, believed to be the first food product sold in a tube. Glass cases hold fine china containers for mustard from the days nobody would put a jar on the dinner table. The museum is located in Middleton, six miles west of state capital Madison (and 6,978 kilometers west of Dijon, France).

Jell-O Gallery Museum: LeRoy, NY

Jell-O Gallery Museum

Jell-O Gallery Museum | Flickr CC: happyskrappy

It wiggles and jiggles and makes kids giggle, and since it was developed in this small town in Upstate New York in 1930, that’s where its museum is. Like many brilliant inventions, Jell-O was discovered by accident, by a carpenter, trying to concoct a cough remedy out of fruit juice and gelatin. There’s plenty of Jell-O trivia (like the most popular flavor in Salt Lake City is Lime), plenty of vintage newspaper and magazine ads and TV commercials starring legendary comedians Lucille Ball and Jack Benny. Jello-O was one of the first companies to recognize the importance of what we now call “branding,” and recipe books with artwork by such notables as Norman Rockwell also are on display. LeRoy is 30 minutes southwest of Rochester.

International Banana Museum: Mecca, CA

International Banana Museum

International Banana Museum | Flickr CC: Sporst

Go bananas at what may be the world’s largest collection of banana-themed jewelry and clothing, toys and games, tableware and towels, and banana-scented and flavored candles, soaps and cosmetics. An old-fashioned soda fountain serves up banana ice cream and floats, even banana-flavored soda pop, and the gift shop—of course—sells all kinds of banana items. Mecca is one hour southeast of Palm Springs, in the Salton Sea area.

The Hershey Story: Hershey, PA

Everybody loves chocolate, but it’s too bad this little downtown museum is mostly missed by visitors seeking out the humongous Hershey World factory tour and theme park outside of town. Here, you’ll learn about the history and geography of the cacao bean, how small town candy maker Milton Hershey turned a sweet tooth into an international brand, see the original machine that turned out the foil-wrapped Kiss, and discover the philanthropy that made orphaned children heirs to his great fortune. Hershey is near state capital Harrisburg.

Southern Food and Beverage Museum: New Orleans


Southern Food and Beverage Museum | Flickr CC: Alex Ansley

There are displays for products produced in each of the 50 states in this former wholesale food warehouse, which is large enough to showcase antique kitchens. The main gallery at this Nola museum focuses on regional food and traditions, from beignets to jambalaya, along with collections of vintage oyster gathering implements, exhibits on Absinthe and other spirits. You can also follow the barbecue trail from the ancient Taino tribe of the Caribbean from the North to the South. Leave time to thumb through an impressive collection of turn-of-the-last-century cookbooks.

U.S Pizza Museum: Chicago

If you think pizza should be eaten and not ogled, you haven’t experienced this cheeky Chicago museum, which finally found a permanent home last summer in the city’s South Loop neighborhood. The pizza joint is a tribute to all things ‘za, featuring menus, rare boxes, clothing, art and more. If this doesn’t put you in the mood to finally get out and try Chicago’s signature deep dish pizza, nothing will.

There also are food museums in Europe and Asia, including a wine museum in France, a currywurst museum in Berlin, a cheese museum in Holland, a chocolate museum in Switzerland and a ramen museum in Japan. But that’s another story for another time. Until then, tell us about your favorite food museum in the comments!

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Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn is an NYC-based travel writer who would rather ride a chairlift, river raft or zipline than the subway. She's a regular contributor to major publications, including airline inflights, and has written more than a dozen travel guidebooks. Evelyn's website is

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