Fruitcake

Fruitcake

There has perhaps never been a dessert that has received as bad a rap as fruitcake. Late night icon Johnny Carson once joked that there was only one of them in the world and that it simply gets passed from house to house. A tradition during the holidays, some people adore it while others graciously accept it, then quickly discard it when nobody is watching. Either way, it has made quite the impression on all of us.

The history of fruitcake goes all the way back to the ancient Romans, where recipes describe a cake made with honey, spices, nuts, raisins and other assorted dried fruit. It was popular throughout Europe during the Middle Ages as well as with the early American colonists who were fond of preserving fruit with sugar. Today, it is popular in countries across the globe, although most only eat it during the holiday season.

So… the name sounds innocuous enough and, hey, what could be so bad about a cake with fruit in it? Well, you probably won’t be surprised to find that not everyone is fruitcake-friendly. Those that abhor it like to point out that they are suspicious of its invinvibility, and it is true that a fruitcake can last a very long time without going bad. A piece from 1878 was sampled by Jay Leno on The Tonight Show in 2003, one-hundred and twenty-five years after being baked. Speaking of which, some of you may remember a frequent and beloved guest of the show named Marie Rudisill, better known as The Fruitcake Lady.

Fans of the dessert insist that the flavor only improves over time. Fruitcakes owe this amazing longevity to a couple of factors. First, the fruit itself is heavily candied to ensure it won’t spoil. Also, in many recipes, the final touch is dousing said cake with liberal amounts of brandy or other liqueurs which acts as a preserving agent. Some even keep fruitcakes wrapped in linen soaked in brandy to help with its bid for immortality.

Recently, a slice of fruitcake that was served at the royal wedding of Will and Kate in 2011 was auctioned off for the princely sum of $7,500. Sure, that’s a pretty special cake but, historical significance aside, it proves that fruitcake is a luxury, fit for a future king, and it isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. In fact, it might just outlast us all.

Are you someone that is fond of fruitcake, or do you think it is horrific and best used as a doorstop? We hope you’ll take a moment to share your deeply-held thoughts on this infamous confection, for better or worse, with all of us in our comments section below.

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