Credit: Isthmus Staff

Barry Levenson, Founder, National Mustard Museum founder

Quick - when you hear the word mustard, what's the first thing that comes to mind? If it's Mustard Museum, then Barry Levenson has done his job.

Known as the man who put mustard on the map, Levenson is more than an entrepreneur. He's a lawyer, a former Wisconsin assistant attorney general, an author (Habeas Codfish: Reflections on Food and the Law) and an all-around force of nature. With an indomitable spirit and a keen mastery of the pun (witness his "university affiliate," Poupon U), Levenson has amused visitors since he established his museum in Mount Horeb in 1992.

Who else but Levenson would have thought that a Mustard Museum was a good idea? The story goes that he started his collection while despondent over the Red Sox's loss to the Mets in the 1986 World Series. Why mustard? Why not? Levenson's gift for attracting attention has landed him on National Public Radio, Letterman and even Oprah (a framed thank-you letter from "O" herself is part of the collection).

Last year Levenson moved his growing enterprise (now grandly renamed National Mustard Museum) to Middleton, at 7477 Hubbard Ave. He has managed to blend an educational experience and a moneymaking enterprise into a unique tourist attraction. The collection contains over 5,100 mustards from 60 countries (who knew Iceland made mustard?), as well as mustard pots and old advertising signs; there are interactive displays and a "Mustard Piece Theatre." The museum also houses a tasting area, and loads of mustards and mustard paraphernalia are for sale, both on-site and online. There's even a Mustard of the Month Club.

When it comes to business acumen, sense of fun and all-around audacity, Barry Levenson and his museum really cut the mustard. (Sorry.)

- Michana Buchman