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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Thursday, March 29, 2012

PETA Ad Doesn't Cut the Mustard

There are plenty of unusual museums dedicated to a variety of subjects, some bizarre, some that honor a person or event, some that look at some part of life in America. & then there are some that look at those little things in life we take for granted. The National Mustard Museum is one of them. 
I know some people will say why? I say why not. After all, what would a brat, hot dog or hamburger be without mustard?
Additionally, here in the USA we are finally waking up to the fact that mustard is much more than that yellow plastic bottle we usually think of. Yes, that everyday mustard does have its place. But there is so much more variety.
A few weeks ago I ist heard about this museum. It was started by Barry Levenson esq in 1992. But the roots go back to the 80s. & they have an Iowa connection. According to founder & curator Levenson, he "started collecting mustards on October 27, 1986. The story of the Mustard Museum traces its roots to a late night visit to an all-night grocery when Barry heard a deep, resonant voice as he passed the mustards: “If you collect us, they will come.”
He "bought about a dozen jars of mustard and at that moment resolved to amass the world’s largest collection of prepared mustards. He continued his work as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin during his early years of collecting mustards. While in Washington, DC, to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, he spied a mustard jar on a discarded room service tray in the hallway of his hotel. He took it. “I argued a case before the Supreme Court with a mustard jar in my left pocket,” he says. “We won.” Moments like that cemented his unwavering devotion to mustard. In 1991, Barry left the law to devote his passions full-time to collecting mustards and mustard memorabilia."
For those of you who missed the Iowa connection as Levenson points out "his inspiration has always been the speech in the movie Field of Dreams in which James Earl Jones convinces Kevin Costner to keep his baseball field, telling him that people would come and gladly hand over money to share his improbable vision. “That was my inspiration,” says Levenson." So he started the museum, although not in Iowa but Wisconsin. (We'll forgive him for that small mistake.)
I finally got a chance to check their website out. & while there I discovered something to make me applaud the courage of museum founder, Barry Levenson esq. The museum was facing some financial difficulties & PETA saw that as an opportunity to co-opt the museum for their own agenda. PETA offered to give a donation if they would put up a poster telling people to NOT eat meat but veggie dogs instead. Of course PETA didn't wait to hear from Levenson. They sent out a press release as well.
Levenson just said NO. & for the right reasons. He refused to sell out those many meat eaters who would visit the musuem for a few dollars. He knew that he had to respect those who are meat eaters as well as vegetarians.
I suspect that PETA really didn't care about the museum. & by the timing of the press release that they were just using the museum for shameless self-promotion. If they were serious about helping the museum they would have privately contacted him & made him a solid dollar amount offer of a donation. I suspect that Levenson would have said no even with a specific dollar amount, but that they didn't. . . . That they didn't tells me the PETA gang weren't serious.
So again, I applaud Levenson for doing the right thing in saying no to PETA. & congratulations to the museum on their upcoming 20th Anniversary in April.

America’s Favorite Condiment Museum!




MIDDLETON, WI --

The National Mustard Museum has rejected a proposal from PETA ("People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals") to display a controversial PETA poster. A month ago, PETA sent the Museum a letter offering to help the Museum with its financial difficulties if it would post a PETA ad. The ad depicts a scantily clad woman holding a jar of mustard and an unidentified sausage with the message: "Meat Doesn’t Cut the Mustard. Try Veggie Dogs." At the same time it sent the letter to Mustard Museum Curator Barry Levenson, PETA sent copies to the media. The letter did not specify a dollar amount PETA would give to the Museum.
"Mustard certainly goes well with veggie dogs," says Levenson, "but it also is the perfect condiment for hot dogs, bratwursts, and other meat products. The PETA message, as amplified on its website, is one that we believe will offend many of our visitors. " Levenson points out that the PETA website characterizes meat eating as "support[ing] misery, violence, and bloodshed." Levenson adds, "While we respect those who choose a vegetarian diet for all kinds of reasons, including ethical concerns, the National Mustard Museum should not be used as a forum for questioning the morality of those who choose to eat meat. Neither would we allow the presence of an ad by a sausage company that insults vegetarians."

The Mustard Museum’s finances came under public scrutiny in early 2012 when it asked for and received a one-year deferral of loan payments from the Dane County Community Development Block Grant Commission. "We have experienced financial stress as a result of many factors, including the general downturn in the economy and significant unforeseen expenses. But the community has responded in a warm and positive way to support us. We’re going to make it, and we are not about to insult many of our guests for a fistful of dollars from PETA."

The gift shop at the National Mustard Museum offers visitors the opportunity to taste hundreds of mustards and provides recipe ideas for using mustards, including many vegetarian options. The museum part of the operations, holding the world’s largest collection of mustards and mustard memorabilia, split off from the business as a separate nonprofit organization in 2011. "This will relieve a lot of the pressure on the business," says Levenson, "as we raise money from foundations, corporations, and individuals who see our value of a unique food experience here in Wisconsin. We welcome donations from individual PETA members and everyone else, too."

The National Mustard Museum opened in 1992 and will celebrate its twentieth anniversary on April 5. "Meat eaters and vegetarians are always welcome," says Levenson, "and no matter what philosophical differences they may have, mustard can bring them together. The only smear campaigns allowed here are the mustards people smear on their food."

For more information, contact Barry Levenson at 608-831-2222 or curator@mustardmuseum.com

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