GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Thousands of people from West Michigan and beyond are flocking to Grand Haven this weekend for the Coast Guard Festival. But the history of the Coast Guard isn't the only type of history you can learn when you're in town.
Off the beaten path, far from the crowds and the waterfront is the Community Archives Research Center for the Tri-Cities Historical Museum. And in that archive is a dessert museum officials believe to be the world's oldest wedding cake.
13 ON YOUR SIDE was at the archives doing some research for another story when Jared Yax, the curator of collections, mentioned the cake in passing, and we found it interesting enough that we had to learn more.
"With museum collections, you never know what you're going to find in that collection," Yax said.
The cake was from the marriage between Nate Robbins and Esther Savidge on September 3rd 1891. It was somehow preserved over the years and donated to the museum in 1974.
"The cake was apparently made in Chicago. As soon as it was done, they put it on a boat to ship it up here for the wedding, and for some reason they never ate it. So they got passed down from person to person until it got into the museum's collection here," Yax said.
"My guess is it's so well preserved because it was an alcohol fruitcake. So I think the alcohol evaporated pretty quickly out of it and essentially turned it into a big sugar crystal. It's kind of one of those goofy interesting things that you'd see in the collection. That leaves a memory impression."
Yax said reactions to the cake range from amazed to disgusted.
"It's one of those those cool things, you start researching history and looking through things and you'll find all kinds of surprises," he said.
If you'd like to find all kinds of surprises, the entire archive for the Tri-Cities Historical Museum is viewable on their website.
"They can do a research requests that will come to the collections department here, and we can do facilitated research. So if you find a couple of artifacts that you really want to take a closer look at, just let me know which ones they are. You can come in here. I'll pull those artifacts, and I'll work with you and do history research, right here," Yax said.
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