Nestled among the Great Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a true monument to monomaniacal collecting: Andrea and Rolf’s Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.
Boasting over 20,000 pairs of shakers dating from the 1500’s to the modern day, the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is more than a tacky roadside stop or hobby room. Andrea and Rolf, the owners and curators, have been collecting shakers for more than 25 years, and they are thrilled to be able to share their knowledge on the topic with the world. Andrea, formerly an archaeologist, is the shaker expert, while Rolf curates and maintains the museum’s collection of pepper mills, of which they have about 1500. The couple are keen to impart some of the history and functionality of salt and pepper shakers, lest any visitor walk away wondering “why?”
Of the many interesting facts the museum sheds some light on, the reasoning behind the number of holes per shaker seems to the most requested bit of info. As the operators of the museum will tell you, it depends on everything from the local culture’s view of salt and pepper in terms of health, the size of the spice grain, and even simple availability. It is surprisingly relevant information such as this that elevates the museum from simple kitsch to respectable collection.
The museum claims itself to be the only shaker museum in the world, although they also, surprisingly enough, have a sister museum in Castell de Guadalest, Spain.