The traditional 60th anniversary gift is a diamond. But what if it’s a sandwich’s anniversary?
An Illinois man recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the day he grabbed then-Vice President Richard Nixon’s unfinished sandwich on Sept. 22, 1960, when the politician was visiting his home town of Sullivan to give a speech. He has kept the sandwich ever since.
The buffalo barbecue sandwich has gotten Steve Jenne invited on several TV shows, including “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. He even co-wrote a book about the sandwich that was published this year.
“You could probably sell this to some museum — a very pathetic museum,” Carson joked about the paper plate on which the sandwich had been served.
Jenne, who was 14 at the time, told the Herald & Review that his school let out early on the day of Nixon’s visit, and his Boy Scout troop was enlisted to help with the event. His post was “right behind” the vice president at the park where he was served the sandwich as lunch before his speech.
“He took a couple of bites and commented how tasty, how good it was,” Jenne told the Herald & Review.
When Nixon left, so did everybody else in the park, Jenne said. But he stayed behind, and that’s when he noticed the remains of the sandwich.
“I looked around and thought, ‘If no one else was going to take it, I am going to take it,” he told the newspaper.
Jenne brought the sandwich home to his mother and asked her to preserve it, so she put it in a jar and stuck it in the freezer, according to the report. It stayed there until he moved out and put the sandwich in his own freezer.
The sandwich remained mostly out of the public eye until 1988, when a local newspaper story hit the wire services and went international. That led to Jenne’s “Tonight Show” appearance, where he was also given a half-eaten snack from Carson and a paper plate from comedian Steve Martin. He later went on to receive souvenir sandwiches from a couple of other celebrities and appeared on the game show “I’ve Got a Secret,” according to the Herald & Review.
Jenne told the newspaper he has no plans to get rid of the leftovers anytime soon.
“As long as I am living, that sandwich will be stored in my freezer in a container that is labeled, ‘Save, don’t throw away,’” he told the newspaper.