Why This Washington Museum Preserved A 95-Year-Old Sandwich

How do you feel about leftovers? As we've long suspected — and as science has proven — many dishes, such as soups, stews, and meat sauces, actually taste better in the days after they've been cooked, as disparate flavors merge and the collagen in meat continues to break down and take on a silky-smooth texture (via Taste). That makes us feel somewhat better about the collection of pots and pans that tend to accumulate in our fridge, but does not explain or excuse the more random odds and ends that sometimes pile up in there, like half-eaten pastries, wilted salads, and bread that most likely will never see the inside of a toaster, but will rather pass straight to the compost bin.

Many times, sandwiches find their way into the refrigerator, too: maybe they were just too big, and we could not finish them, or maybe we wanted to save a half for a roommate or family member. But, all too often, these fridge-relegated sandwiches just go limp and soggy and end up getting tossed. We have perhaps been guilty of hoarding a two-day-old or maybe even a week-old 'wich, but one museum in Washington State is purposely hanging onto a sandwich that's long past its serve-by date.

Inside the 95-year-old sandwich's historic ties

Founded in 1939, the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center preserves a wide range of the art and artifacts of Washington State's Mid-Columbia Valley. According to its official website, the museum has explored historical topics, such as household articles used in Wenatchee homes around 1900, as well as a comprehensive look at Washington's apple industry. Recently, the museum made the news for its choice to hold onto a somewhat surprising artifact: a sandwich that was assembled way back in 1926.

According to Spokane news station KHQ, the Wenatchee museum is hanging onto a 95-year-old sandwich — and plans to do so forever. The sandwich, which is wrapped in cellophane, apparently belonged to Clyde Pangborn, a World War I-era aviator who was born in nearby Bridgeport at the turn of the century (via History Link). In 1931, Pangborn achieved fame for completing the first transpacific flight, setting out from Japan and landing in East Wenatchee about 41 hours later (via Wired). The sandwich, which was acquired by one John Walz, was kept in a small, red tobacco tin in his attic, and was later discovered by his son Pete before being donated to the museum (via KHQ).

The sandwich was pretty much forgotten in one of the museum's temperature-controlled storage rooms — until it was discovered last summer by collections coordinator Anna Spencer. "It's kind of an enigma," said Spencer of the sammy, whose fillings are unknown (via KHQ). We could say the same for some of the questionable leftovers in our fridges right now.