Heartbreaking news out of western Kentucky as Meacham Country Hams has announced their closure. The old charcutieres are hanging up their salt boxes, and cancelling their orders for cords of cured hickory wood.
The Meacham family had been in the meat-curing business since 1932, and in 1999 were awarded ‘best tasting ham’ at the Kentucky State Fair. Meacham Country Hams have also been featured in the Neiman Marcus catalogue.
During the concern’s heyday they shipped upwards of a 1000 hams per day.
Family patriarch William Meacham (RIP) was born in 1913, and launched the family charcuterie business in the 1930s with his grandma’s ham-curing recipe.
Back in the 1920s, Meacham’s father was having a hard time keeping help on the family farm so he came up with the idea of bribing his workers with country hams. If they’d stay with him for a full year he’d give the men a trove of cured meat. That’s all it took back then.
Before Meacham reached high school age his father would slaughter 8-10 hogs per year (right around the first frost) as the young man grew older the number of hogs grew larger til it was finally realized that the family had a real business on their hands.
William Tandy Meacham, 94, died June 3, 2008.
Meacham Country Hams continued running til 2017 when Meacham’s son Rodman decided to close the business, and end a chapter in the lore of Kentucky country ham.
Rodman Meacham had three children, none of whom were interested in running the family business.
Our favorite quote from the old ham man, William Meacham: “Bacon is not bacon til it’s cured,” thus putting lie to the phrase “uncured bacon”
From the pen of Evelyn Meacham: “Not unlike a fine wine, a good country ham can’t be rushed; it needs to age slowly and naturally. In 1932 William Meacham began curing hams for his family and friends using the cure handed down in the Meacham family for generations. When people tasted his ham, the word spread that he had a ham to delight the country ham connoisseur.”