The National Mustard Museum: Passion For A Condiment Summer is full of distinctive flavors, but one condiment stands above them all: mustard. Hot dogs just aren't the same without it. And in Wisconsin, there's a museum devoted to the simple spread. It all started with one man collecting unique mustards.
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The Mustard Museum: Passion For A Condiment

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The Mustard Museum: Passion For A Condiment

The Mustard Museum: Passion For A Condiment

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Let's chase after some summer fun now on our Holiday Road series.

(Soundbite of song, "Holiday Road")

Mr. LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM (Musician): (Singing) Holiday road, holiday road...

MONTAGNE: Occasionally this summer, we're going to bring you some strangely specific museums from across the country. They're all real, open to the public, and - it must be said - a bit bizarre. Today, we pay homage to a condiment that helps give summer its distinctive flavor.

Mr. BARRY LEVENSON (Curator, National Mustard Museum): I'm Barry Levenson. I am the curator and CMO - Chief Mustard Officer - here at the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin.

MONTAGNE: Barry Levenson created the National Mustard Museum in a fit of despair back in 1986.

Mr. LEVENSON: My beloved Boston Red Sox lost the World Series. I decided I needed a hobby to get over my depression. That's the morning I began collecting jars of mustard.

MONTAGNE: And Levenson, who's a lawyer by trade, quickly saw his hobby turn into an obsession with collecting the different jars wherever he spotted them.

Mr. LEVENSON: I argued a case at the U.S. Supreme Court. On my way to the court, I saw this little jar of mustard on a discarded room-service tray. I didn't have time to go back to my room. So I brought it with me and argued it, and I had a jar of mustard in my pocket.

MONTAGNE: He won that case, by the way. But he now dedicates his time to collecting condiments professionally. His collection has grown to more than 5,000 mustards from around the globe, everything from French stone-ground to French's Classic Yellow.

All are on display at the National Mustard Museum. And there is one more thing: The museum doubles as an institute of higher learning.

Mr. LEVENSON: It is the hallowed campus of the Mustard College, which everyone knows as Poupon U.

MONTAGNE: And while you cannot take any classes for academic credit at The Mustard College, they do have a nifty fight song.

Mr. LEVENSON: (Singing) On our hot dogs, on our bratwurst, mustard is so cool. Never mayo, never ketchup - they're against the rules. Gleaming gold and mellow yellow, smooth, rough, sweet and hot. Fight, Poupon U. We'll fight and eat some lunch.

MONTAGNE: Keep that song in mind, because you can pay a virtual visit to the National Mustard Museum at our website: npr.org.

And if you have a suggestion for other strangely specific museums, drop us a note on our Comments page.

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