Two items you can find in any home in America are salt and pepper shakers. Typically on the kitchen table, ready for use, no meal is complete without these two classic seasonings. These innocuous seasonings have even made it into pop culture with an 80's hip hop group called Salt-n-Pepa. Because of the widespread popularity of salt and pepper shakers, a museum solely dedicated to the history of these kitchen basics was eventually created! You'll never see your shakers the same after visiting the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Origin of the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
This quirky museum all started with one woman and her labor of love. Andrea Ludden is an archaeologist, trained to see meaning in the mundane and find stories in the ordinary objects that make up everyday life. Her family didn't have a working pepper mill at home, so they went off to find one. One turned into two, then three and four, until they had stumbled into a new universe- the world of salt and pepper shakers.
Through this experience, Andrea fell in love with the history of salt and pepper shakers. She eventually began to take pictures of the many shakers in her house, cataloging her collection. Her husband Rolf eventually put his foot down, insisting that Andrea find something to do with the many shakers in their home. By the early 2000s, Andrea's family had moved from Texas to the Smoky Mountains, and there they opened the one and only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum!
Why a Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum?
Along with being entertaining and interesting, this hidden gem shows us new sides of American society. One of the central purposes Andrea decided to open a museum was to display the societal changes represented in salt and pepper shakers. One can see the changes over time in the shakers and thereby in society, dating back to ancient times and reaching all the way to the current day.
This museum also sheds light on the amazing variety of salt and pepper shakers. There are over 20,000 pairs of shakers at this museum in Gatlinburg, and viewing this giant collection can show the incredible creativity and artistry that has gone into the creation of shakers. The third reason for the museum is to bring people together. Salt and pepper shakers are in the home of everyone you meet, and this connects us in of itself.
For those who collect random factoids, the museum is also full of interesting knowledge related to salt and pepper. You can learn which shaker typically has more holes and why, along with where salt and pepper come from. The history of salt and pepper spans centuries and touches every part of the world, making this a fascinating and relevant topic for anyone.
About the Museum
The museum is organized by theme and color, and small stories about each particular shaker set are displayed to give viewers more context about its history. Themes are separated by pepper mills, which is the specialty of Rolf, Andrea's husband. There are 1500 pepper mills in the museum, from all over the globe! There is also a gift shop located in the museum for those inspired to buy a new salt and pepper shaker set to commemorate the experience.
This unique attraction is one of a kind, although there is a sister museum in Spain. The museum is located in Winery Square in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, at 461 Brookside Village Way Gatlinburg, TN 37738. If driving from Pigeon Forge, just head toward Gatlinburg and you'll see signs for it!
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is the perfect attraction while on a road trip through the United States or for those who live in Tennessee. This incredible shaker collection can teach you about yourself, your society, and the two seasonings you likely use most- salt and pepper!
Watch: 11 National Road Trip Stops Along I-70