Recalling big food

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seven years ago, residents of the town of Smithfield dreamed the impossible dream: to build the world’s largest ham biscuit.

The town was celebrating its 250th anniversary, and residents wanted to do something big to help them remember it.

They succeeded.

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On Sept. 28, 2002, the town’s residents set up a custom oven onsite at then new Smithfield Foods location, and then they baked the largest biscuit in the world.

“They built the ham biscuit oven on site where Smithfield Foods is, and the oven was to bake both halves of the biscuit, and Smithfield Foods provided the ham to go on the biscuit,” said Tracey Neikirk, curator for the Isle of Wight County Museum. “They got together the amount of flour and water and the like to make it.”

Just in case you’re wondering, the world’s biggest biscuit requires a correspondingly large amount of ingredients. Neikirk said that it took approximately 100 pounds of flour, 40 pounds of baking powder, 75 pounds of baking soda, 100 pounds of butter, 100 pounds of lard, 90 gallons of butter milk and 13 pounds of salt to build the big biscuit.

By the time the first half was baked, it alone weighed more than 850 pounds.

Smithfield Foods donated 500 pounds of ham to go on the biscuit, and the finished product was an 8-foot long, 14-inch think biscuit weighing in at more than 2,200 pounds.

Officials were on hand to verify the biscuit as the official world’s largest, and now, seven years later, the town of Smithfield wants to celebrate that success.

“We’re trying to bring awareness to the museum, and we thought this would be an anniversary to celebrate Smithfield Ham and Smithfield itself, so we thought, ‘Why not celebrate the anniversary of the world’s largest ham biscuit?’” Neikirk said.

During the celebration on Sept. 26, the Isle of Wight County Museum will host a presentation from Cousin Mary, a local woman who will share her favorite pork recipes, tips on how to raise a prize-winning pig for a county fair and even the fundamentals of hog calling.

“It’s a great family event, and we’re looking at it as a family-oriented event that everyone can enjoy,” Neikirk said.

Refreshments will be served at the event. Reservations are required. The event will begin at 7 p.m., and the cost is $10 per person. For more information or reservations, contact the Isle of Wight County Museum at 357-0115.