I have never been a history buff, but I have always been amazed by the number of museums and attractions that exist across the USA and around the world.There is the world famous House of Mud (see Vacation), the John Deere Museum in Moline, Illinois that attracts hoards of fine tractor connoisseurs, and no museum experience is complete without a trip to the Spam Museum in Rochester, Minnesota.
This got me thinking about another unique museum that I have visited many times over the past thirteen years; starting right around the time that Sonic Promos began.Tucked away in West Hartford, Connecticut, not too far from Main Street, Blue Back Square (which has a great Whole Foods, BTW) and the Trash Museum, you will find The American Museum of Promotional History, otherwise known as my Mother-in-Law’s house (MINLAW).
Though recently remodeled, MINLAW houses a bevy of promotional items, marketing pieces and branded clothing dating back to the early 80’s (though there may be even older treasures yet discovered).Some of these items have never been opened thus increasing their street value.Our journey begins when we enter the kitchen.
Scattered among the family photos, children’s art and baby announcements dating back to the early 2000’s, the refrigerator showcases tons of promotional magnets, clips, rulers, frames, a magnetic letter opener and a coupon holder.You can even see a very early Sonic Promos magnet that dates back to 1997 (old-school).
Visitors of the Drawer Series are treated to a vast array of sticky note pads (including one for Linda McMahon’s run for US Senate), calculators, a bundled pack of Hot Hands, a promotional clip still in its packaging, a woven lanyard key tag, tape measure and a multitude of pens bundled in rubber bands.
Another drawer displays the largest known collection of privately owned jar grippers. When it comes to colors and shapes, clearly MINLAW is partial to blues and circles but you can also find some reds, yellows, greens and whites as well as hearts, ribbons and rectangles. The curators of the Drawer Series did not suggest that there was a need for 15 (!) grippers at once but “you never know.”
The drinkware cabinet displays a variety of ceramics, stainless steel and acrylic items. Notice the personalization on the American Veterans Mug. The 1984 US Figure Skating Team mug is a promotion from Maxwell House (printed on the other side). There is the ceremonial Bat Mitzvah mug that every house should own. The 1998 Republican Party Delegate mug is weathered but still shows well.
Most people can show you their matchbook collection. However the MINLAW collection can be found throughout the entire museum. Interestingly enough the restaurant-branded matches can all be found in the kitchen, a perfect place to be when one is thinking about food. As a courtesy to patrons, this piece of history is housed on the upper shelves, away from small hands and short pyromaniacs.
After visiting the kitchen, I decided to call it a day. I cannot wait to visit the Garage, Home Office and the relatively unchartered Basement Vault, where items have yet to be catalogued. Stay tuned.