This past Tuesday I took the train to DC to visit one of my favorite friends from college who was home from Louisville. My friend E is a kindred spirit. We always pick up exactly where we left off and despite time and distance are always on the same page. After a yummy lunch at Founding Farmers, E suggested a visit to the International Spy Museum. Given recent current events and my desire to visit the museum since it opened in 2002, it felt like the perfect way to spend a rainy DC afternoon.
Since there are more spies in Washington, DC than anywhere else on earth, it’s fitting that the city has the only public museum in the US dedicated to the field of espionage. One of the reasons for the high number may be that the museum trains each visitor!
The first stop is a room filled with cover identities. Each visitor has to select and memorize an identity, which he/she is expected to recall at anytime.
Next up, it’s the briefing room where visitors learn about the real world of spying and the many different motivations for being a spy.
E and I weren’t motivated by patriotism, money, blackmail, or ego, just fun! So we entered the School for Spies ready to try anything and everything. Lucky for us it was filled with interactive exhibits intended to help us master four basic skills: observing a scene accurately, blending in with the crowd, assessing risks, and responding to threats swiftly and coolly.
It was also our first exposure to some of the 600+ international espionage artifacts in the museum. We were amazed by how many common things could be turned into spy equipment — purses, lipstick, toys and, yes, even suitcases.
The suitcase radio was issued by the Polish SOE in the early 1940s for secret communication between Poland and England using Morse Code. Sadly, there were no sweet-related artifacts. ;)
Spying is the second oldest profession, and the museum dedicates galleries to tracing the history of espionage beginning in Biblical times. For example, we learned that while now regarded as assassins, Ninjas were actually professional spies in 12th century Japan. Coming from the Japanese word that means “the art of the shadow”, Ninjas were trained to enter a place undetected, gather information, undermine the enemy, and strike when least expected.
The museum experience concluded at present day with an exhibit on contemporary intelligence challenges like cyber terrorism and included a lighter special exhibit celebrating 50 years of James Bond villains.
Neither E nor I have ever seen a Bond film (seriously!), but we both love to bake and did some brainstorming about what sweet treat would accompany this post.
I decided to sneak some surprises into and under the cover of the popular recipe for Chocolate Scotcheroos. You won’t need to break a code to follow this simple recipe
and, while the first thing they tell you upon entering the Spy Museum is to trust no one, you can trust me that these Surprise Scotcheroos are oozy, gooey, sweet, and delicious!
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 10 oz. marshmallows
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 8 cups Rice Krispies cereal
- 12 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
- In a large pot over medium heat, cook corn syrup and sugar, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil.
- Reduce heat to low; stir in marshmallows. When marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter.
- Add Rice Krispies and stir until well coated.
- Press half the mixture into a 13x9x2 pan coated with cooking spray.
- Add Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and cover with remaining mixture. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and butterscotch chips over low heat. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm.
DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO WASHINGTON, DC: 136 miles