Got potted meat? The Rooms would like to speak with you

Maple Leaf Potted Meat, a product jam-packed with preservatives, is now the subject of preservation attempts by Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial museum.

Provincial museum looking to expand foodways exhibit with more iconic items

The Rooms provincial museum and archive is looking for a can of Maple Leaf Potted Meat to place in its provincial foodways exhibit.

Maple Leaf Potted Meat, a product packed with preservatives, is now the subject of preservation attempts by Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial museum.

Maureen Power, curator of history at The Rooms, has been hitting up grocery stores around St. John's looking for cans of the newly discontinued meat.

If she finds one — which has not happened yet — it will be added to the museum's exhibit featuring the province's most iconic foods.

"It seems like every year we're losing something else. Last year it was the pickles, this year it was the potted meat," Power said.

"Now we're looking for a can so we can preserve our provincial heritage by having examples of these foodways in our collection."

Maureen Power's favourite item in the foodways exhibit is a vintage pack of Red Rose tea. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

"Foodways" is defined as the place where food meets culture and tradition. Encased in glass, examples of Newfoundland's foodways at the Rooms include a mix of utensils, appliances and specific brands.

There are old tea kettles, vintage signs for buttered bread and an old box of Red Rose tea.

When there was a shortage of Fussell's Cream in 2013, they scrambled to buy some for the exhibit. And, of course, when Zest mustard pickles were discontinued last year, it became a must-have item for the display.

The Rooms is always looking to expand on the exhibit with more examples, such as Maple Leaf potted meat, Power said.

The Rooms features an exhibit of products and packaging from days gone by that were once mainstays in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

The cancellation of the product was announced last week, amid rumours Maple Leaf was cutting Vienna sausages. That rumour proved to be false.

If Vienna sausages were to go extinct, they would surely land a place in the Rooms exhibit.

Other items the museum is looking to obtain are vintage Orange Crush cans and Eversweet margarine containers.

The biggest item on Power's bucket list, however, is a Good Luck margarine container.

"I used to go to my Aunt Maureen's house, who I'm named after, and have her fresh bread with Good Luck butter on it. Then all of a sudden it was no longer."

It's those memories that make foodways important for everyone, Power said.

This pack of Red Rose tea was found in an old store near Bonavista and donated to the Rooms. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

People become especially nostalgic around this time of year, she said, when people want to relive holiday traditions from their childhood. In many cases, those sought-after items are no longer available.

"You're at risk of losing a part of your identity and part of your memory of what it was like growing up here that you then want to pass on to your children."

If anyone has food-related items the Rooms may be interested in — granted you are willing to part with your last can of Potted Meat — they can contact Power at mpower@therooms.ca or 709-757-8052.