In a museum in Virginia, a precious—and once delicious—item is boxed, wrapped, and stored in a dark, temperature-controlled room. It’s a 95-year-old sandwich that was discovered in the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center’s extensive archive and is now being preserved as part of the museum’s permanent collection.
The Wenatchee World reports that the sandwich belonged to Clyde Pangborn, the pilot who made the first nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean in 1931. Before then he was known for performing aerial stunts in a flying circus, and apparently in 1926 famously made a sandwich and never ate it. At least, according to the note that was stuck to the cellophane wrapping when the artifact was discovered that read: “Clyde Pangborn Sandwich 1926.”
A man named John Walz held onto the sandwich for decades in a small, red tobacco tin, and in 2010 it was discovered by his son who brought it into the museum where it went unnoticed until last summer. There are still a lot of lingering questions: What compelled Walz to hang onto a stale lunch item for so long? What lies between those two pieces of bread? What kind of smells are seeping out of that plastic wrap? And what stopped Pangborn from taking a big ol’ bite in the first place?
The museum doesn’t seem to have any intention to provide answers, but they are committed to preserving what they call a “fascinating” item that is essential to telling the story of the region. Strangely, it won’t be available for public viewing to protect the artifact from being compromised—there may be more than one curious customer who wouldn’t be able to help themselves from getting a taste.
Just the idea of the sandwich, which is currently sitting in a dark container locked behind five doors, outliving us all should make you think twice before cleaning out your fridge. That moldy leftover lunch could be a piece of history.