As It Happens

World's oldest cured ham celebrates 112th birthday

The world's oldest cured ham turned 112 last weekend. The ham is on display at the Isle of Wight County Museum in Smithfield, Virginia. Loyal museum visitors celebrated just like they do every year--by gathering around the ham and singing Hammy Birthday....
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The world's oldest cured ham turned 112 last weekend.

The ham is on display at the Isle of Wight County Museum in Smithfield, Virginia. Loyal museum visitors celebrated just like they do every year--by gathering around the ham and singing Hammy Birthday.

The ham has an interesting history, says Jennifer England, historic resources manager at the museum. In 1902, a cured ham was overlooked and hung in the rafters of a packinghouse for 20 years. 

"When P.D. Gwaltney Jr. found the ham, he thought it would make a great pet," says England. "He fashioned a collar for it. He had it insured it for $1,000, and then later he upped that to $5,000. He took it with him to trade shows."   

By 1924, the pet ham was kept in an iron safe that was opened daily for guests to view. 

Ninety years later, the ham is displayed behind glass at the museum, where it's technically still edible. 

"It would most likely be very chewy," says England. "It would need some kind of sauce."  

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