What’s Cooking at the Museum of Burnt Food

A return visit to a carbon sink facility
by Nan Swift, Improbable Research staff

The Museum of Burnt Food continues to grow and prosper. Since our last visit to the museum, the collection has moved to a new facility in Arlington, Massachusetts. A small lake next to the building serves as a scenic, yet high-capacity emergency reaction vessel. Curator and founder Deborah Henson-Conant has nearly doubled the museum’s holdings. The photos here represent a small but diverse sampling.

Always a leader in the campaign against global warming—and in particular, the struggle to reduce the amount of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere—the Museum of Burnt Food is the first major museum to develop an in-house carbon sink policy. Every year, every item in the collection is washed in a carbon sink. After washing and drying an item, the museum staff evaluates its condition; in selected cases the item is reburnt.

Cider in Situ #2

Apple cider warmed on a stove ad infinitum. This specimen of Cider-in-Situ is a companion piece to the famous “Free-Standing Hot Apple Cider”—the original seed which grew to become the Museum of Burnt Food. Donated by Gary Dryfoos, circa 2000.

Burnt Whole Wheat Tortilla

What was intended as a “quick snack on a whole wheat tortilla” became this item in the Museum of Burnt Food. Topping unknown. Donated by L. Von Hopper. Acquired in 2003.

Whole Wheat Toast under Glass

Whole wheat toast, burnt. Acquired circa 1995.

“Kruncheroni ’n Cheese”

Remains of attempt by a 14-year-old boy to make dinner from a package of Kraft Macaroni-and-Cheese. On loan from private collection of David and Susan Beno.

Thrice-Baked Potato

Thrice-baked potato (Solanum tuberosum extermino). Acquired pre-1989.

Burnt Lemon

Etiology unknown. Acquired circa 1996.


This article is republished with permission from the July-August 2008 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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