On your next vacation, you could go to a stuffy museum filled with art and cultural relics…or you could go learn a thing or two about potatoes and noodles.
Canadian Potato Museum
Historically, one of the biggest cash crops from Canada’s maritime province Prince Edward Island is the potato. As such, the Canadian Potato Museum in O’Leary is a tribute to “all things potato.” After being greeted by a giant potato sculpture (not made of potatoes) outside the museum, visitors can check out other potato sculptures inside (including the largest one in the world) and an array of historical equipment used to farm potatoes (the world’s largest collection of potato harvesting machinery, in fact). There’s also a Tater Kitchen which serves, uh, potatoes.
After visiting the Potato Museum, it only makes sense to visit the one devoted to French fries. Housed in a 600-year-old building in Bruges, Belgium (French fries originated in Belgium, not France), it’s the world’s only museum that celebrates the “potato fry” (again, French fries originated in Belgium, not France) and was founded by the Puratos Group, a giant Belgian food conglomerate. Exhibits at the Frietmuseum (or “fry museum”) include vintage deep fryers, ancient potato cooking implements…and plenty of hot fries for sale.
The Burnt Food Museum
Professional harp player and self-admitted bad cook Deborah Henson-Conant got the idea for her Arlington, Massachusetts museum when she tried to heat up apple cider on the stove, forgot about it, and came back to find a blackened rock-like object. That became the first exhibit at the Burnt Food Museum, which features other far-too-overdone exhibits like “Kruncheroni ‘N Cheese” (sent in by a family whose young son tried to make mac and cheese, failed, and hid the results under his bed for days), as well as burnt toast, burnt shrimp, and burnt vegetables.
The SPAM Museum
Not many people will admit to liking Hormel’s canned pork marvel known as SPAM, but somebody must, as millions and millions of cans of the stuff are sold each year. Accordingly, for something that popular, there’s a museum dedicated to SPAM. Founded and operated by Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, it’s as wondrous and delightful as SPAM itself. Comprising more than 16,000 square feet, the museum features an exhibit on SPAM’s success in feeding millions during WWII food shortages and the SPAM Wall, a sculpture consisting of 4,000 SPAM cans. The museum’s staff of “SPAMbassadors” are also a source of SPAM history and knowledge.
The Ramen Museum
Part museum, part theme park, the Ramen Museum in Yokohama, Japan, celebrates the humble, tasty Japanese noodle. On one floor are a bunch of kiosks detailing the history of noodles, and ramen, including a big one devoted to Momofuku Ando and his invention, Cup o’ Noodles. The entire second floor is a miniature re-creation of Tokyo as it looked in 1958, the year ramen was introduced to the public. Among the nostalgia explosion are nine ramen shops.