Major in Mustard at Poupon U

 Having just seen the movie “Sling Blade” on video with its classic line “Mustard’s good on ’em to me” we simply could not resist a trip to Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin and its world famous Mustard Museum.

Much to our delight, what we discovered was a confluence of cheesy tourist diversions. A veritable treasure trove of camp with metal monsters, trolls, the great outdoors and of course, mustard.

Before we even made it into town we… CONTINUE READING >>

Having
just seen the movie “Sling Blade” on video with
its classic line “Mustard’s good on ’em to me” we
simply could not resist a trip to Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin and
its world famous Mustard Museum. Much to our delight, what
we discovered was a confluence of cheesy tourist diversions.

A veritable treasure
trove of camp with metal monsters, trolls, the great outdoors and
of course, mustard.

Before
we even made it into town we were granted a wonderful surprise.
Rounding a bend in the highway, we encountered a rolling,
attractively landscaped yard hosting giant scrap metal sculptures.
Closer inspection was definitely called
for.

After a few
dangerous minutes gazing over the creations from the side of highway
78, we decided to pull a little way into

the drive. The Tin Man
of Oz fame, who doubles as a mailbox, showed us the spot. We were
given a welcoming wave from the couple up by the house so we got
out and walked across the little bridge to say hey.

Wally
and Shirley Keller built their home and have lived in this
picturesque valley in south central Wisconsin since the
’70s. After retiring in 1995, Wally began fashioning these
fascinating pieces from old farm machinery —
just for fun — but has since sold over a thousand of his intriguing
creations. When asked if he had any formal training in art, Wally
simply smiled and replied, “Well, I can

spell art.”

The
Keller’s proudly showed us around, introducing us to
the enormous Nine-eyed Crown Bug, Parts Man, Temple Lion,
Pegleg the Pirate and a veritable herd of dragons and dinosaurs.
In addition to these colossal sculptures adorning
the front yard, a myriad of smaller critters dwell in the garden
out back.

Wally employs kinetic energy in many of his creatures,
giving them interesting movement and sound. Folks in these parts
have come to know the Kellers well and will special order works
or drop off an unneeded hunk of scrap metal or two. Many a morning
Wally wakes up to discover these late night offerings next to his
workshop.

With the Tin
Man in our rearview mirror, we headed out for the last few miles
into the mustard Mecca. Driving into town on Main Street it quickly
became obvious that something strange was afoot. Ever feel like
somebody’s watching you? Well, in Mt. Horeb they actually are.
Dozens of diminutive, below the bridge dwellers of all shapes
and sizes — wooden trolls, metal trolls, big trolls, little trolls,
painted trolls, ceramic trolls, you name it, all lining the roadway
they call the Trollway.

But
the main event of Mt. Horeb has got to be the Mustard Museum.
A hotdog’s best friend, a soft pretzel’s comrade, a sandwich’s
constant companion, the condiment that never goes bad on
you, when the fridge is totally empty, wait, what’s that way down
in the bottom corner of the door, it’s a little crusty but it’s
still good… mustard! Right when we walked through the door it
hit us. David

literally said, “wow, it’s really yellow in here.”
Why? Because it freaking IS.

For
those who think of mustard as a plastic squeeze bottle of
bright yellow goo, the Mustard Museum will give some food
for thought. Over five thousand different mustards are on
exhibit in the museum and more than five hundred on sale in the shop.
The shop also houses the world’s only mustard vending machine.

Mustard
in tubes, cans, jars, boxes and bottles. Seven large, tiered
display cases are crammed with swanky antique mustard pots
on permanent loan… just like one of them fancy big city
museums. It’s going to be quite the chore to move all
of this mustard memorabilia when the museum is relocated
in October.

Informative
exhibits showcasing mustard in medicine, mustard’s love
affair with sports and mustard advertising through the ages
line the walls. On the medical front, it looks as though mustard,
as a treatment for pulmonary diseases, snake bites and skin
rashes is no longer on the forefront of
the healing arts, but some folks still swear by mustard rubs and
baths. Go ahead and smear on some French’s or draw a tubful
of Plochman’s if you think it will help. Seems like an

awful lot
of squeezing but we‘ll be standing by with some pastrami at
the ready.

Wanting
the full mustard experience — without actually wallowing
in it –we decided we must procure some for our personal consumption.
We proceeded to the tasting area. After choosing several we
thought we might like, we were led to a table in the back
where tiny samples of assorted mustard
styles are offered on little plastic spoons. We can honestly say
we’d never had mustard straight before, silly rabbit — mustard’s
a condiment. Even David’s weird little

friend back in grade
school, Donny The Mustard Eater, made sandwiches out of it — he
never ate it straight up. The samples could’ve used a chaser.
Perhaps a bratwurst.

We
took a crack at eye-watering horseradish style, tongue-burning
habanero and sickly sweet honey varieties.

We passed on
the “Bite Me” and the “Smack My Ass & Call Me
Sally,” but like Goldilocks, found a just right German stone
ground and a not too ferocious jalapeno. Now that’s good eatin‘.

Jars
safely tucked into our bag, it was off to University, Poupon
U — right there in the shop. At least their swag is. With
a slogan like “building character dollop by dollop”
they must be good. Ah, if only our offspring had known about
Poupon U before they chose those other institutions
of higher learning.

To complete
our visit, we stepped into the Mustard Piece Theater. Today’s
(and everyday’s) feature: quirky old retro

videos on the making
of mustard mixed in with goofy celebrity sound bites. It’s great
— Jonathan Winters, Joanne Worley and Woody Allen proclaiming
their undying love of mustard.

As we were
leaving we met the curator, author and all around wacky guy, Barry
Levenson. When asked why the museum is moving from Mt. Horeb to
Middleton, Wisconsin this fall, he answered, “It’s the only
way to get there.”

Thanks Barry.

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com


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3 thoughts on “Major in Mustard at Poupon U”

  1. >Can't tell you how happy I was to see your comments on the Mustard Museum.

    I first became aware of it when editing the book "Hometown Wisconsin" by U of M professor, Marshall Cook (If your interested in the book as a guide to further travel in WIsconsin, check out http://www.savpress.com).

    Love your travels – love your Gypsy Nester philosophy. Happy Trails!

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