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Food, thought and science merge at this enthralling museum adjacent to stunning Lake Geneva (you’ll know you’ve arrived when you spot the eight-metre-high fork jutting out of the water). Alimentarium is both Nestlé’s headquarters and the first museum in the world dedicated to nutrition. There’s a sprawling vegetable garden to explore, as well as hands-on cooking classes and a number of exhibits that deep-dive into the role of food in history and culture. In a nutshell, it’s a place for thinkers and food lovers.
Erstes Deutsches Bananenmuseum, Germany
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Collector Bernhard Stellmacher has such a fixation on bananas, he’s managed to fill – and overflow – his basement with enough paraphernalia to warrant a museum. In his years as a devoted fanatic to the smiling fruit, he’s amassed over 10,000 odds and ends that celebrate it. Expect banana-shaped saltshakers, toy cars and a corner dedicated to Josephine Baker’s banana skirt.
Big Mac Museum, USA
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In homage to one of McDonald’s most beloved burgers, this museum in Pennsylvania celebrates the Big Mac’s creator, Jim ‘MJ’ Delligatti. It’s also a functioning McDonald’s, meaning that visitors can learn all about the Big Mac and its secret sauce, view the world’s tallest Big Mac statue and then sweep around for a bite in the 24-hour double-lane drive thru.
Cheese Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Across the road from Anne Frank’s house on the picturesque Prinsengracht, this little museum celebrates not only the famed gouda but also the entire 600-year stretch of Dutch cheesemaking history. Visitors can dress as traditional Dutch cheesemakers, take a gander at the world’s most expensive cheese slicer and also spend a euro or two in the attached shop – after all, who could resist?
Deutsches Currywurst Museum, Germany
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A fried pork sausage served with a squirt of curried ketchup and a fistful of fries, currywurst is the ultimate in politically aware fast food. In Germany, it’s achieved cult status: so much so that every candidate for the Mayor of Berlin must make an appearance at a stand and order accordingly. It’s no surprise then, that an entire museum in Berlin is dedicated to this spiced sausage. It’s primarily an interactive museum, with chances to create your own currywurst, sniff your way around a spice chamber and stretch out on a sausage-shaped sofa.
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Although the humble potato originated in Peru, historians agree Belgium can likely lay claim to its most beloved adaptation: the fry. In the medieval town of Bruges, pride in this fry-fact is more than evident in the vibrantly decorated Frietmuseum. Exhibits in the 14th-century building cover the 10,000-year history of the potato, as well as how the fry came to be in Belgian society. The highlight? The basement level has more than a few golden fingers on hand for sampling.
Museum of Ice Cream, USA
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The extremely photogenic Museum of Ice Cream opened its first outpost in San Francisco to a hoard of visitors, phone cameras at the ready. Museum-goers – who can now visit the other existing locations of Los Angeles and Miami – can explore the exhibits (which include swimming pools of sprinkles, a display of rainbow-shaded popsicles seemingly dripping their deliciousness all over the walls and floors) while licking an ice cream cone and eating the gummy bear loot they’ve picked up on the way.
Jell-O Gallery Museum, USA
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Nothing beats the jiggle of jelly and this wobbly wonder has transfixed children and adults alike since its inception in 1897. Gravity-defying jelly – or jell-o to Americans – has an entire museum celebrating its contribution to desserts, where you’ll find colourful art, a kids play area, famous campaigns and information on how Jell-O changed the face of the small town of LeRoy, New York.
Museum Kimchikan, South Korea
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No jar of kimchi is created equal and this South Korean museum is out to prove it. The museum’s three sections detail the fermented cabbage pickle’s history on the peninsula, its recipes and nutritional benefits and how climate, timing and location all factor in the creation of this popular Korean staple. Sampling is offered, of course.
Museum of Pizza, USA
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Have you ever been so taken with a slice of your margherita that you wanted to dive headfirst into it? The pop-up Museum of Pizza – due to open in a currently undisclosed New York location in October 2018 – aims to give pizza fans that exact immersive experience. Current inclusions have been revealed as a pizza art gallery, a temptingly named “cheese cave” and a “pizza beach”. No sneak peeks have been given into how these exhibitions will look (or feel) but one inclusion is easier to imagine – the admission price includes one slice of real life pizza.
Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, Japan
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If you’re not entirely certain what museum you’ve stumbled into, the giant self-serving ramen bowl with the noodle-wrapped chopsticks will give you a hint. This is the ramen museum, founded in 1994 as the world’s first food-themed amusement park. Inside, you’ll find a small village – Ramen Town – dotted with tiny shopfronts where you can order a bowl – or many. Exhibits aren’t just to be eaten, however, there’s a section that displays the results of 25 years of research into the dish itself.
Cologne Chocolate Museum, Germany
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Rodolphe Lindt developed a new refining method for chocolate way back in 1879 – and our tastebuds have never been the same. At Cologne’s Schokoladen Museum, the history of chocolate and Lindt is laid out in tempting display. While the humble cocoa bean’s 5000-year history is fascinating, let’s be honest: it’s the chance to take home a piece of the museum that really entices. After selecting your favourite type (whole milk, fine dark or white) and ingredients, in 45 minutes you’ll have a bar of personalised chocolate crafted by the Maîtres Chocolatier to devour on your way back to your hotel.
China Watermelon Museum
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Although no real watermelons form part of any exhibit, this unexpected tribute to the bulbous southern African fruit in Beijing makes a whimsical effort to emulate them. In a fanciful nod to the fact southern Beijing is one of the world’s largest producers of watermelon, this quirky museum features everything from ceramic watermelons to paintings depicting watermelon farmers. Even the museum’s architecture matches its topic with a green, melon-like dome cupping the entrance.
Museum of Prosciutto di Parma, Italy
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The process may seem straightforward but the time-honoured tradition of the cured deliciousness that is prosciutto has a much richer history than its simple recipe would suggest. In the small town of Langhirano in northern Italy, there’s a whole museum dedicated to these traditions but even if you’re not a history buff, there’s reason enough to visit: prosciutto tasting is part of the experience.