Smithfield, Virginia: World's Oldest Edible HamPotentially edible, but we wouldn't recommend it (It's been a ham since 1902). In the same ham-rabid town that made the World's Largest Ham Biscuit.
Visitor Tips and News About World's Oldest Edible Ham
The ham and the museum remain much as the other tipsters have said. They found the ham after it had fallen off the conveyor belt around 1902. I forget his name (I will call him Mr. Smithfield) wanted to see how long it would last. Around 1920 he put a gold leash on it and started taking it to parties. Now it's outlived him.[Ardith Ohka, 03/06/2010]
This museum certainly was worth the wait. We attempted to visit once, but the museum was closed for almost two years due to a flood. We entered and were immediately escorted to view the Hams on display. Also mention The World's Oldest Peanut, and the World's Largest Ham biscuit being made here, and the certificate from Ripley's Believe It or Not.
All in all, this museum is what tourist stops are all about.[Alphageek, 06/27/2009]
Smithfield is a typical all-American town, complete with nicely restored historic buildings, kitschy shops, and a museum showcasing a big, moldy ham. The town and museum staff seems oddly normal, considering their circumstances. I mean, this is "the real America." Anyone that cares this much about showing off a rotting pig should be on a trash-covered sidewalk in New Jersey, not Smithfield. This museum may have found the only way to make hoarding an old, moldy ham seem acceptable, as it is encased in glass and presented alongside sparse collections of Colonial and Native American artifacts.[Tiffany Belacic, 01/28/2009]
We don't know about "trash-covered sidewalks," but lucky NJ is the only state where you can look at two pieces of Grover Cleveland's wedding cake that are older than Smithfield's ham (the middle one in the photo).
We went to the Isle of Wright museum to see the "World's Oldest Edible Cured Ham." The docent told us that it was definitely *not* edible anymore, but it's still the oldest cured ham in existence (In the photo it's the ham in the center). The world's largest cured ham and the world's oldest peanut is now in the museum to compliment their oldest ham.
The museum's exhibits also include prehistoric fossils, Native American and Colonial artifacts, and a country store.[Rachel B., 01/15/2009]
The cured ham is also the oldest edible cured ham in the world. It looks gross with green mold on the outside, which we were assured could be scraped off if one wanted to eat the ham. Of course, these type of cured hams have to be soaked in water for at least 24 hours and then slow cooked for hours prior to eating.
This is a neat little museum, they have revolutionary war and civil war items as well as the items from the Smithfield hams industry. The main street of town where the museum is located is worth spending a day exploring. A bronze statue of Ben Franklin sits on a bench outside the local newspaper The Smithfield Times. The Smithfield Bakery has the best muffins, cookies, and sandwiches on homemade bread.
The museum has pictures of the ham biscuit from 2002 at 8 feet in width, 14 inches tall...500 pounds of Smithfield Ham. The Smithfield Ham Biscuit, which was made during last year's 250th Anniversary Celebration, was accepted by Guinness World Records as the World's Largest Ham Biscuit.[Lana, 04/27/2003]
World's Oldest Edible Ham
Isle of Wight County Museum
- 103 Main St., Smithfield, VA
- Isle of Wight County Museum. I-64 exit 263A (Mercury Blvd/US 258). South on US 258, across the James River Bridge, for 17.5 miles. Turn right on Main St. in Smithfield, then one-half mile to Museum.
- M-Sa 10-4, Su 12-4 (Call to verify)
- Adults $2.00
- RA Rates:
- Major Fun