Thursday, July 23, 2009

Museum of Salt & Pepper Shakers, Gatlinburg, TN

Pass the salt and pepper, please.

Sprinkled among the stores and gift shops of Gatlinburg’s Winery Square is the world’s only Museum of Salt & Pepper Shakers.

Hogs, frogs, bears, and marine life are sorted by category, filling the displays. Would you pour salt out of a miniature toilet? Pepper from a tombstone? Mr. Peanut, the Campbell Kids and even miniatures of the King and Queen of Nepal have their own place of honor on the shelf.

Wandering through 3,200 sq. ft. museum, you’re likely to hear “We had a set just like that!” as visitors find familiar figurines from days gone by. Hallways are painted black so that the shakers in brightly lit, glass-fronted rooms stand out. Yellow arrows on the floor point the visitor to the next gallery. There, you’ll see even more sets made of ceramic, wood, walnut shells, horn, eggs, rock, glass, metal, plastic, nuts, sea shells, crystal. From the world’s largest to the smallest set, it’s unique, quirky and fun.

The collection was begun over 22 years ago when the Ludden family didn’t have a working pepper mill. One mill grew into a collection. Over the next 20 years Andrea, archaeologist and museum curator, had amassed over 20,000 sets.

Visitors can start their own collection with a purchase of shakers in the museum’s gift shop. You can even collect a spouse while visiting, as the Salt & Pepper Museum doubles as a wedding chapel.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Admission is $3 for adults, and children under 12 free.

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