Harry Hoenselaar owes his success to sheer perseverance. After leaving his small Midwestern hometown for Detroit, he was hired as a salesman for the HoneyBaked Ham Company. Relying on his knack for slicing ham on the bone, he found success at the company, but he was hungry for more. One night in 1936, he began toying with the idea for a machine that could uniformly slice bone-in ham. The next day, he devised a primitive prototype with a tire jack, pie tin, washing-machine motor, knife, and a pinch of magical elf dust. Over the next eight years, he worked to perfect his invention—building and testing variations—and filed for multiple patents, but time after time, he was rejected.
Discouraged, he took a job to support his family and set his dream aside—until 1957. The widow of his former employer rang him to offer The HoneyBaked Ham Company to him for $500. He seized the opportunity, and the first HoneyBaked Ham store opened its doors in October of that year. After enjoying years of incredible success, Harry passed away in 1974—but his legacy and the business still flourish thanks to his children and grandchildren. The seed of his idea led to more than 400 retail locations sprouting up across the nation, their dedicated staffs slicing up tender, honey-baked ham while serving sandwiches and sides.