Is This 112-Year-Old Virginia Ham The World’s Oldest?

A ham cured in 1902 in Smithfield, Virginia is celebrating its 112th birthday this year. It's 3,534,375,710 seconds old.

Photo: Isle of Wight County Museum

Photo: Isle of Wight County Museum

Pigs contribute so much to the food world. From bacon to guanciale to trotters, porcine pleasures abound.

The BBC reports that a ham cured in 1902 in Smithfield, Virginia is celebrating its 112th birthday this year. Its permanent residence is the Isle of Wight County Museum, where it’s perennially on display. We’re big fans of well-cured meats, but 112 might be a bit much.

Food writer Jay Rayner put it best when he told the BBC,

“I’d be suspicious of anyone getting excited about the former back end of a pig that’s been hanging around for 112 years.”

While we might not want to take a bite, the question of whether or not this is truly the oldest ham in the world remains. An Oxford butcher bought a ham through a Christie’s auction in 1993, which the Independent says he intended to use for display in his butcher shop. The BBC confirms that it’s still there, hanging in his window—at the ripe old age of 122.

The Isle of Wight County Museum webpage may shed some slight semantic light on this mystery, though: it was apparently “advertised as the world’s oldest Smithfield ham.” As opposed to the world’s oldest jamón ibérico, we suppose

Here’s a look at other mad-ancient foodstuff.

Dyer’s burger grease

hreas Is This 112 Year Old Virginia Ham The Worlds Oldest?

The grease at world-famous Dyers Burgers on Beale Street in Memphis dates back to 1912, is strained daily, and has been carefully carried between different Dyers locations by armed police escorts. (Photo: Best Memphis Burger)

Bog butter

bog butter Is This 112 Year Old Virginia Ham The Worlds Oldest?

Bog butter is one of the most common archaeological discoveries throughout the peat bogs of Ireland and Scotland. Limited storage was available in the times before refrigeration became widespread, so butter-lovers started storing their butter in peat bogs thousands of years ago, where it was occasionally forgotten. As of October 2013, the Nordic Food Lab has found over 430 recorded instances of bog butter discoveries. (Photo: Nordic Food Lab)

4,000-year-old Noodles

noodles Is This 112 Year Old Virginia Ham The Worlds Oldest?

In 2005, Professor Houyuan Lu’s team of archeologists finally solved the long-standing debate about who invented noodles first, the Chinese or the Italians. The BBC reports that the noodles above were found at the Lajia archeological site on the Yellow River, and carbon dating shows that they are 4,000 years old. The site is known as “the Pompeii of China,” due to some sort of unknown catastrophe wiping out the civilization quite rapidly, while perfectly preserving things like these noodles. (Photo: Nature/KBK Teo/E Minoux et al via the BBC)

[via the BBC]

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