“Seeds of Passion” Propel Mount Horeb Mustard Museum

Sep 21, 2006 12:34 AM  By

Mount Horeb Mustard Museum doesn’t have the resources of a Lands’ End or a J.C. Penney. But what the purveyor of—you guess it–mustard lacks in marketing dollars, it more than makes up for in creativity.

For instance, instead of using all his catalog space for selling merchandise, Barry Levinson, the creative force behind the Mustard Museum, devoted some of the valuable real estate to a writing contest. Last year he included the first half of a story he wrote–”Murder at the Mustard Museum”—and gave $5,000 to the entrant who came up with what he felt was the best ending. The contest was a success that he’s doing it again– “only this time it’s a romance novel called ‘Seeds of Passion,’” Levenson says.

These types of promotions—as well as events such as the World Wide Mustard Competition and offerings such as a Mustard-of-the-Month Club—have gotten the Mustard Museum featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and the Food Network and in scores of print publications.

Located in Mount Horeb, a suburb of Madison, WI, the actual museum features 4,600 types of mustard from all 50 states and 60 countries, a collection Levenson started in 1986. The gift shop, print catalog, and Website sell a vast array of mustards and other condiments, along with gift baskets, corporate gifts, and novelty items (a diploma from Poupon U., anyone?). Next month Levenson will drop more than 50,000 copies of a 24-page annual catalog, up eight pages from last year. And the Website gets more than 1,000 hits a day.

Anyone who doubts Levenson’s passion need only ask him his formal title: He’s the CMO–chief mustard officer.