Fruitcake Appreciation Society

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fruit cake

Now that we are only 362 days or so away from NEXT Christmas, I feel it is time to clear up some common Christmas misconceptions. There is a commonly held concept that fruitcake is just terrible, a scourge upon humanity. This is not true. Fruitcake is delicious. I need people to stop being wrong.

It is said that 99% of people think fruitcake is an abomination and not actually digestible food.

Johnny Carson is famous for his long-standing fruitcake jokes. On his “Tonight Show” during the 1960s, Carson said, “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other, year after year.”

Other core fruitcake humor includes: “Why does fruitcake make the perfect gift? “Because the U.S. Postal Service hasn’t found a way to damage it.”

Finally, we have the tried and true. “You don’t have to eat it. Just use it as a doorstop.”

The news even has lighthearted stories of fruitcakes that are passed back and forth for a century rather than ever actually being eaten. That can be taken one of two ways. It’s either a sign of how much people LOVE their heirloom fruitcakes — or completely hate them.

Pass

Two friends from Iowa have reportedly been exchanging the same fruitcake for over 70 years. Even older is the fruitcake left behind in Antarctica by the explorer Robert Falcon Scott in 1910 and found in 2017 still intact.

Although the Guinness Book of World Records doesn’t have a category for ancient fruitcakes specifically, they do recognize some well-traveled confections. Allegedly, the oldest cake on record was found in an Egyptian tomb and is believed to be 4,176 years old.

In more “recent’ fruitcake news, we have the cake baked in 1878 by Fidelia Ford in Michigan. It is reported that Fidelia traditionally made her fruitcakes ahead and let each one age a full year before serving at family gatherings.

Sadly, she passed away before she was able to enjoy her 1878 fruitcake. Her family then became very possessive of the now “heirloom” fruitcake and took care to preserve it for generations after. It was sampled only once when Fidelia’s son, Morgan, appeared on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno in 2003.

As an aside, why is the “Tonight Show” so obsessed with fruitcakes? Jay Leno and Morgan Ford each took a tiny bite and each survived. No word on whether it was tasty but it was, in fact, still edible over one hundred years after the fact. Now Fidelia’s granddaughter, Julie, is the keeper of the cake. It is apparently for display use only these days.

I am here to defend fruitcake — at the very least the fruitcake I am familiar with, which is delicious. Fruit cake haters must just be having BAD fruitcakes.

Delicious

I am blessed by a dear friend who makes to-die-for fruitcake every December. I know I shouldn’t ever feel entitled but the truth is, I am. I look forward to that fruitcake like a salivating dog. When she appears with her magical basket of vanilla, fruited and nutty goodness to be shared, I can barely contain myself. It is buttery and delicious.

I also grew up with good fruitcakes. The secret is probably that they are homemade? Homemade versus store-bought being superior is going to be true for most baked goods. I swear I don’t know that I’ve ever had BAD homemade fruitcakes. I find that people who put their heart and soul into baking and give food as gifts are generally pretty confident in their abilities for good reason.

In fact, although gifts are not my “love language,” if we must exchange gifts, I think food gifts should catch on for EVERY holiday. Valentine’s Day already lends itself to food gifts, naturally — candy, chocolates, that sort of thing. I say everything should have an official baked good, candy or themed consumable gift.

Birthday? Food!

Groundhog day? Food!

Arbor Day? Food!

I tend to find that if anyone cares enough to give me homemade baked goods and similar gifts, there is nothing better. Fair warning: I’m going to eat it. No one is going to be getting any leftover 100-year-old cake from me. Honestly, I don’t even understand the term “leftover” when it comes to cake.

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