The Tale of the Canned Ham: From Story to Tradition

Instead of the typical ball drop, we have our very own ham drop to ring in the New Year. You may be wondering how this quirky tradition began, so let me share the story with you.

During an overnight camping trip, Rob Flakus and I had an experience that was far from ordinary. It was late, and we were feeling a bit tipsy and then we got hungry. We decided to cook up a canned ham we had brought along (Corn King Brand) and had the idea to slice it into thick pieces and place it over the fire, hoping to get it nice and crispy.

We encountered a problem: the ham slices wouldn’t get crispy. We tried cooking them for a longer time, even moving them closer to the fire, but to no avail. The ham remained unchanged. Intrigued and slightly intoxicated, we continued to move the slices closer to the fire until they were eventually covered in hot coals. After removing the slices an hour later, we were stunned to find that they still looked the same. It was as though the canned Corn King Ham was not from this world or that we had accidentally invented a new material – much like when copper and tin were mixed to create bronze.

After spending the night drunkenly brainstorming, we came up with a multitude of potential uses for the canned ham, but one idea stood out the most. We thought that NASA could utilize slabs of Corn King ham on the exterior of the space shuttle for re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. With this revolutionary discovery, we would go down in history and be Nobel Prize-worthy! The absurdity of the situation turned it into a household tale that everyone in our circle of friends and family came to know.

Years after that fateful first encounter, we all gathered once again at the Johnson’s residence on New Year’s Eve, enjoying some drinks and each other’s company. As the night wore on, the subject of the canned ham arose once more. To our surprise, Peg Johnson had a canned ham ready for us. Without warning, we found ourselves suspending the canned ham from a fishing line attached to a sewing bobbin that was nailed above a door jam in the Johnson’s living room. We had decided to have a ham drop instead of a traditional ball drop. Although we didn’t have any fancy props, we made it work with some DIY pageantry and special effects. As the ham was gradually lowered, we shone flashlights on it, counting down the last seconds of the year with excitement.

The canned ham story has been told and retold countless times, gaining more grandeur and magnificence with each telling. However, after that unforgettable evening, it became a cherished tradition. Every year, without fail, it is celebrated in our homes and at Athentic. So, without further ado, let’s behold the ham!

-Paul Skinner

(The ORIGINAL ham from that first ham drop with Alli Johnson and Paul Skinner. It was lovingly named “Big Ass Ham”  after this David Letterman skit