Man Finds Grandparents' 100-Year-Old Wedding Cake Inside a Hatbox in Garage

"It’s lived through a couple world wars," Ronald Warninger told ABC News.

December 04, 2015, 12:43 PM
PHOTO: 100-year-old wedding cake found in grandson's garage in Yakima, Washington.
100-year-old wedding cake found in grandson's garage in Yakima, Washington.
Courtesy Ronald Warninger

— -- One man’s discovery while cleaning out his garage gives a whole new meaning to the “something old” portion of the well-known bridal adage.

When Ronald Warninger, of Yakima, Washington, was cleaning out his garage in late November, he came across something unexpected, yet very sweet. It was his grandparents’ 100-year-old wedding cake, safely preserved in an old hatbox, and tucked inside a big kettle-like canning pot.

“I’m retired now and I thought I’ve got to condense some of this stuff,” Warninger, 67, told ABC News of his surprising discovery. “I looked in there and it was this hatbox and I definitely recognized that, and I knew the cake was in there. It was in the garage on a shelf way up high.”

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Warninger has memories of the cake being preserved in his parents’ freezer as a small child in the 1950s but never thought anything of it — until now.

“My grandparents didn’t have a good freezer and my folks bought one of those upright freezers and 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.”

On the 100th anniversary of his grandparents’ March 17, 1915, wedding, Warninger’s sister called him to ask if he knew of the cake’s whereabouts.

“I knew it was the 100-year mark because 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.”

They are both thrilled the cake, which has been so carefully packed away all these years, was able to be found just in time for this special milestone.

“Just the fact that this cake made it through like this is incredible,” he said. “It’s in perfect shape. It’s been in and out of freezers and been handled a lot. It’s lived through a couple world wars.”

In a poem written in 1905, 10 years before the wedding, it appears one of Inez Warninger’s friends even foreshadowed the future cake’s long life and perseverance.

PHOTO: Man finds his grandparents’ 100-year-old wedding cake in his garage.
Man finds his grandparents’ 100-year-old wedding cake in his garage.
Courtesy Ronald Warninger

And although the cake is now “kind of hollowed out inside” with icing that “sounds like porcelain when you tap it with your fingernail,” it’s just as beautiful now as it was on Inez and Harvey Warninger’s meaningful day a century ago in Crookston, Minnesota.

More than anything, “I’m just glad it reappeared,” he said. “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? It’s just 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.”

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