Holding the Mustard

By Joseph V. Sebelin Jr.

 


The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum

 

Barry Levenson is not your typical attorney. In fact, he is presently not an attorney at all. Barry abandoned his license in favor of his life passion—mustard. Barry Levenson is the curator of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, a museum that he founded. It now boasts over 3,700 mustards as well as hundreds of items of mustard memorabilia.

Barry’s penchant for collecting mustard began after the seventh game of the 1986 World Series. Barry, then an assistant attorney general for the State of Wisconsin, was distraught over the loss of his beloved Boston Red Sox to the New York Mets. Unable to deal with his grief, Barry left his home in search of some solace. He ended up wandering the aisles of a local 24-hour supermarket. There, in the condiment aisle, a random thought emerged that would become Barry’s life pursuit. Barry noticed all of the varieties of prepared mustard and decided that he would purchase as many varieties of prepared mustard that he could find. That evening, October 27, 1986, Barry purchased about a dozen jars of mustard. From that day forward, Barry was on a mission—and the world would never be the same.

Barry continued to work as an assistant attorney general until 1991, when he left the law in favor of mustard. On April 6, 1992, Barry opened the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, WI. By October of 2000, the museum expanded to a more spacious facility located across the street from the previous site. From those few jars of mustard that Barry purchased in 1986, Barry’s collection is now the largest collection of prepared mustards in the world. Barry displays these mustards along with hundreds of items of great mustard historical importance, including mustard pots and vintage mustard advertisements. The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, HGTV’s “The Good Life,” and in the pages of dozens of national magazines and newspapers. The museum, located in Mount Horeb, WI, is open seven days a week, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Not constrained by bricks and mortar, the museum also has its own website: http://mustardmuseum.com. Visitors may access the gift shop, view some of the museum’s exhibits, obtain mustard-related recipes, and even obtain a degree from America’s Mustard College, Poupon U. (Note: Barry even sings Poupon U’s fight songs.) The museum also offers a catalog containing mustard-related gifts.

One of the more unique exhibits is the only known jar of mustard to ever appear before the United States Supreme Court. In 1987, Barry was before the Court on the case of Griffin v. Wisconsin 483 U.S. 868 (1987). As he left his hotel room in Washington, he noticed a small jar of mustard on a room service tray. Observing no one in the immediate vicinity, Barry quickly pocketed the mustard. Barry Levenson took the mustard to the high court and argued the case with the jar in his left pants pocket. Barry won the case and to this day remains uncertain whether the justness of the cause, his brilliant advocacy, or the magical jar of mustard was responsible for his victory.

Although mustard has become a way of life for Barry Levenson, he has returned to his legal roots. Though Barry abandoned his license, he has now nearly finished the lengthy process of restoring license. In order to do so, Barry had to fulfill 90 hours of CLE credit. Barry attributes his decision to regain his license to his mother—“so that she can again say her son is a lawyer.” Barry has also authored Habeas Codfish, a tome that addresses food litigation in America. Barry also speaks on matters involving food litigation at venues across the country. Barry Levenson may be reached at curator@mustardmuseum.com or by calling 1-800-438-6878.


Joseph V. Sebelin Jr. has been practicing for over five years with three different firms. He recently returned to his rural home county to practice law in Pennsylvania. He practices in the family law and civil litigation areas of the law. He can be reached a jsebelin@uslawcenter.com.
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