Ronald Warninger was clearing out his garage when he came across a long-forgotten hat box. Certain that it contained something important, he opened it up – and uncovered a century-old wedding cake.
A chiropractor by trade, Warninger comes from Yakima, Washington. Over the years, while raising his family, he has accumulated quite a number of sentimental objects and trinkets.
Consequently, in November 2015, Warninger decided to do some organizing. He turned his attention to his garage and began to clear it out. However, as he sorted through his possessions, he uncovered a find that stopped him in his tracks.
The item in question was an old hat box. Warninger instantly recognized it and recalled it contained some special items which had once belonged to his late grandmother, Inez Warninger. As a result, he stopped what he was doing to sneak a look inside.
When Warninger lifted off the lid to the box, he spotted what to an untrained eye might appear to be a porcelain bowl. However, the grandson immediately knew the white object was in fact the last remaining part of his late relatives’ wedding cake.
Warninger’s grandmother Inez had married his grandfather, Harvey, on March 17, 1915. As is traditional, the couple had saved the top tier of their wedding cake to enjoy on their first anniversary. But for some reason, they’d never got round to eating it.
Instead, Inez held onto the cake until long after her husband had passed away in 1944. Then, circa 1960, she gave it Warninger’s parents for safekeeping. This was the first time Warninger had become aware of the somewhat-unusual family heirloom.
Explaining how his parents came to own the cake, in 2015 Warninger told ABC News, “My grandparents didn’t have a good freezer and my folks bought one of those upright freezers. I remember it being packed in tin foil and being told, ‘You’re not allowed to touch that,’ but that was it. There was never any plans for it, nobody ever talked about it.”
For roughly four decades, the cake sat almost forgotten in Warninger’s parents’ freezer. Then, while visiting his dad one day in the early 2000s, Warninger found the remnants of the cake (by now hard as stone) sitting in a drawer in his father’s workshop.
It was than that Warninger decided to take the cake home and store it in the hat box. However, as the years passed he forgot all about the item. And when he remembered, he feared he may have lost it forever.
On March 17, 2015, Warninger’s sister had called him to enquire about the cake’s whereabouts. The date was significant since it would have been their grandparents’ 100th wedding anniversary. But when Warninger went on the hunt for the heirloom, he found no sign of it.
Recalling the heart-sinking moment that he realized he may have lost the cake, Warninger said, “My sister called me on the anniversary and asked if I had the cake and I couldn’t find it,” he recalled. “We looked around and thought it was in the basement but it wasn’t. I had given up on it completely and she wasn’t happy with that, but I had kind of given up on it,” he told ABC News in 2015.
So, when Warninger rediscovered the cake just eight months later, it must have came as a great relief. And rediscovering the item during his grandparents’ 100th anniversary year just made it all the more special.
Reflecting on the discovery, Warninger said, “Just the fact that this cake made it through like this is incredible. It’s in perfect shape. It’s been in and out of freezers and been handled a lot. It’s lived through a couple [of] world wars.”
Interestingly, the cake wasn’t the only keepsake in the hat box. Cached inside, Warninger also found a collection of postcards as well as a mink hat that once belonged to his grandmother. Furthermore, he found a poem that mentioned his grandparents’ special cake.
The poignant verse was written for Warninger’s grandmother by a friend. Penned in an old notebook, it read, “Remember me when far away, and only half awake. Remember me on your wedding day, and send me a slice of cake.”
Astonishingly, the poem dates back to 1905, a whole decade before Warninger’s grandparents tied the knot. All the same, it appeared to predict the significance of the couple’s cake. And just like that top tier, the rhyme has immortalized the relationship long after their death.
Whatever happens to the cake from now on, one thing’s for certain – it won’t be eaten. It’s so far beyond edible that Warninger no longer even needs to keep it refrigerated. “When you tap the cake, it feels like porcelain. It’s that hard,” he revealed to the Huffington Post in 2015.
But, while the cake might be past its best, Warninger still cherishes it. “I’m just glad it appeared,” he told ABC News in 2015. “I felt a little responsible for it. It is just the top of a wedding cake, but how many people have those all these years later?”
His plan was hand the baton of responsibility over to his daughter in Hawaii. “It’s like a time capsule. I hope to pass it along to one of my kids and maybe they’ll keep it for another 100 years,” he told ABC News.