Grover Cleveland’s Wedding Cake

The humble house in Caldwell, NJ, where future U.S. President Grover Cleveland was born has been preserved pretty much as it was in 1837. Visitors can see his cradle, his marriage certificate, and the bed on which he was born. But it’s the cake that draws visitors to this spot.

“We’re sort of blessed with it and cursed with it,” said Sharon Farrell, curator of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace, as she showed us her attraction’s most famous artifact: a chunk of cake from the wedding of America’s 22nd President in June 1886.

cleveland cakeThe cake chunk, in a presentation box designed by Tiffany, doesn’t look anything like a modern fluffy wedding cake topped with a tiny bride and groom. It’s a fruitcake, whose sugary embalming has preserved it into its third century — longer than any other cake in America, according to Sharon. “We don’t do anything special for it,” she said. “We check it for insect infestations. We’ve never had any problems.”

One corner of the cake seems to have been nibbled, and Shannon recalled a “legend” of a Cub Scout in the 1950s who bit the cake on a dare. That kind of intimacy is impossible now; the cake is kept safely behind glass. Perhaps some future scientist will unlock its DNA or possibly clone it, since, according to Sharon, scholars cannot find the Methuselah cake’s original recipe.

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