Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Q. Hooka tooka my Titanic cracker?

A.  Somebody with a lot of bread to spend on a cracker that’s well past its “best by” date.

titanic cracker
While it may look innocuous enough, this is not, of course, just any old cracker – or biscuit, as it seems to be interchangeably referred to. It’s a cracker/biscuit that was included in a survival kit on one of the Titanic’s lifeboats.

A humble biscuit that survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 became the most expensive nibble in the world on Saturday when it was sold at an auction in England. (Source: Yahoo)

The price: a tasty $23K.

I suspect that, if the proud new owner were to bite in, it would taste pretty much the same as a just off the factory line and onto the store shelf pilot cracker: dry, tasteless, without the redeeming Saltine feature of salt, and good only as a carrier for a tasty piece of cheese or a smear of peanut butter.

The person who recovered the cracker was not, by the way, a Titanic survivor. James Fenwick was a passenger on the Carpathia, one of the ships that helped rescue Titanic survivors.

The question, of course, is not who would want to eat it. It’s who would want to buy “’ the world’s most valuable biscuit’” to begin with.

Someone from Greece did. Apparently not one unduly suffering from austerity.

There’ve been other pricey biscuit sales in the past, as well as museum quality crackers:

"In terms of precedence, a few years ago a biscuit from one of Shackleton's expeditions (to the Antarctic) sold for about 3,000 pounds (almost $6,300) and there is a biscuit from the Lusitania in a museum in the Republic of Ireland."

A biscuit from a Shackleton expedition? I’m surprised that there was anything left over. Weren’t those guys eating snowshoe laces and walrus nostrils at one point?

As for the Lusitania cracker, it doesn’t even make the list of the History of Ireland in 100 Objects. A ticket to the launch of the Titanic does, however, make the cut.

Anyway, $23K for a stale biscuit, however interesting and illustrious its provenance, seems like an awful lot. So does $88K for a menu, which was what the carte from the last first class lunch fetched up at the same auction.


You may not be able to read the menu, so let me help you out there. Some of what’s on offer sounds fine, but Grilled Mutton Chops? Wouldn’t Grilled Lamb Chops have been a little tastier and a tad more tender?

And I’d rather have a bite of that pilot biscuit than snack on Corned Ox Tongue. (If this is first class, what, pray tell, did the folks in steerage get to eat? Corned Ox Toenail?)

I also might have passed on the Soused Herrings. You’d want to have your wits about you if your were maneuvering for a spot in one of the precious few lifeboats. This menu was saved by a passenger who managed to horn his way into what was called “The Money Boat” or “Millionaires Boat”, as it held a precious few passengers – all first class – and would have had room for a dozen or so more, but… Apparently it was more important to make sure a souvenir menu was saved than a sniveling, smelly immigrant child…The boat got its name from the rumor that a group of swells had bribed some crew members to row away fast rather than trying to take on more passengers.

Good to know that some things never change.

Anyway, it’s interesting what people will pay a lot of money for, isn’t it?

The menu I can more or less understand. But that lone pilot cracker?

Must be nothing to buy in Greece, these days. Hope no hungry pensioner living on reduced rations and air comes across it.


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