Sure, the Louvre has its art and the Ford Museum has its history, but do either have a petrified and wholly preserved burnt apple cider? Or a plastic candy dispenser shaped like Andrew Jackson? Maybe one day! But, until then, the below are the country's greatest food-based museums and roadside attractions where you can eat BBQ while learning about its roots, marvel at the wonders of Spam, and reflect on the majesty of Wesley Willis while eating a Big Mac. Suck it, Venus de Milo.
The Jell-O Gallery (LeRoy, NY)
Because you can't eat terrible sweaters, the good people of LeRoy have rallied with this testament to all things Cosby, tracing three decades of Dr. Huxtable's involvement in shilling Jell-O. There's Jell-O memorabilia, as well as shrines to spokes-eaters like Lucille Ball and Andy Griffith, plus a horse-and-buggy tour of the Jell-O Brick Road... best bring a sweater! It gets cold out there.
The Museum of Burnt Food (Arlington, MA)
Curated by a deranged, Grammy-nominated electric harpist, the Museum of Burnt Food displays all the meals you tossed out in college as art -- severely burnt, carbonized, and preserved foods that were left on the stove so long they look like fossils, including solidified apple cider, petrified chorizo, and rock-hard muffins that look deceptively edible.
The Corn Palace (Mitchell, SD)
The most interesting thing in eastern South Dakota (an auspicious distinction if ever there was one), the Corn Palace is exactly what it sounds like: a Buckingham-huge structure made (and remade as it's eaten by birds) completely of corn husks. Inside, you can eat all kinds of corny goodness while gazing upon corn-based murals and wondering why the hell you're actually in South Dakota to begin with.
Flickr user fairlybuoyant
Rock N Roll McDonald's (Chicago, IL)
A McDonald's so legendary it inspired this soulful tune by Wesley Willis
, Chicago's Rock N Roll McDonald's is a Mickey D's that doubles as a museum of McMemorabilia, old guitars, tacky Elvis statues, Pet Rocks, and eight-tracks that sadly don't play "I Whooped Batman's Ass".
Flickr user City Hutch
Strataca: The Kansas Underground Salt Museum (Hutchinson, KS)
Located 650ft below ground -- presumably to keep out a legion of hungry deer and Louie Andersons -- Strataca lets you see where your favorite tabletop seasoning comes from by letting you go deep into a mine, where you can ride in mining cars, look at weird natural salt crystal formations, and get kicked out for licking the wall too much.
The Moxie Museum
The Moxie Museum (Union, ME)
A monument to a bitter regional cola that most people don't know about, but that totally gave Coke a run for its money for awhile, the Moxie Museum looks like one of those joints the American Pickers
dudes would totally geek out over, featuring displays of old signs, ads, and actual bottles that you probably shouldn't drink, since some of them are 150yrs-old and cola apparently doesn't age like Scotch.
The Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia (Burlingame, CA)
This joint rocks pretty much every single Pez dispenser ever made: Yoda, Donatello, the not-insensitive "Mexican Boy", Martin Van Buren, Elvis, Captain Picard, Mozart, and so on. Many can also be purchased, so if you've ever wanted to own a 7ft snowman Pez dispenser that will haunt your dreams and those of your grandchildren for decades to come, this is your jam.
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (New Orleans, LA)
Perhaps the most delicious museum in the world (with respect to the Guggenheim, which we're sure has great pretzels or something), this joint explores all the wonderful things that the South has sprung on the world in order to make us fat and happy, from BBQ to American absinthe, corn, whiskey, and other Southern things that aren't Jessica Simpson.
Flickr user Anubis Abyss
The Spam Museum (Austin, MN)
Sure, Spam is what people call the emails from that nice Nigerian prince they just don't understand, but did you know the imitation ham also helped save the free world? So says a letter from Ike Eisenhower, on display here, thanking the company for keeping American G.I.s fed during WWII. You can also sample dozens of flavors, watch Spam movies, watch a canned-ham puppet show, and, if you ask really nicely, find out what the hell this stuff actually is.
Flickr user Ed Schipul
The Orange Show (Houston,TX)
Part Pee-Wee's breakfast machine, part carnival, part Winchester Mystery House, and all bizarre, the Orange Show is the labor of love of one Houstonite who spent 24 isolated years building this monument to his favorite fruit and "his belief that longevity results from hard work and good nutrition". A maze of walkways, statues, and exhibits, the place draws everybody from art-car fanatics to perplexed tourists looking for the perfect glass of orange juice... only to never return. BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Just kidding, you totally get to leave, it's fine.