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Man eats 50-year-old chicken for golden wedding anniversary

How romantic

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A sentimental husband in Denton, Greater Manchester, has celebrated his golden wedding anniversary by eating a 50-year-old can of chicken.

Les Lailey had been saving the tin of Buxted Whole Cooked Chicken in Jelly from a buffet he and his bride Beryl received as a wedding gift – in 1956. They kept hold of the tin through numerous house moves, explaining to the BBC: “I always said 'on my 50th wedding anniversary I'm going to eat that chicken' – so I did.”

He added: “It was all right. But I don't like chicken.”

The couple ate everything else in their wedding hamper, but with post-war rationing still in effect, a whole canned chicken was a rare delicacy. Les reported: “It tasted just like ordinary chicken. A little bit salty but that was my fault for not cooking it like I should have done.”

Beryl was not too impressed with her husband's romantic gesture: “If it was a diamond ring or something like that, that would be different.”

Les apparently has felt no ill-effects from the fossilised feast. Experts say tinned food can last almost indefinitely if sealed properly, though the normal shelf life is about six months. Indeed, a panel of food scientists recently tested several foods from the seventies and found many were still palatable.

Food science professor Ted Labuza of the University of Minnesota told Wired last year that a seven-year-old canned chicken he had eaten was still "very edible".

With the ancient-chicken-eating world record safely back in British hands, canny Les Lailey now has plans to put the empty tin up for sale on eBay. "It's a part of history," he says. ®

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