“There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep passing it around.” – Johnny Carson
Okay. Let’s start here. I like fruitcake. You know the kind. I’m not talking about the fruitcake that Aunt Maddie makes for Christmas every year and gives one out to every member of the family. And I’m not talking about crazy Uncle Al who you truly believe escaped from a group home and is now living in an undisclosed location. That is a different kind of fruitcake altogether.
No. I am talking about the fruitcake that you see this time every year in the supermarket. The one that is wrapped in clear cellophane. The one that didn’t sell from last year, but since it is the only food on the planet with a longer shelf life than a Twinkie, it can be brought back again this year. Or the one that comes in that round, red can with the sell date on the bottom that clearly reads December 31, 1973.
Yeah. That gooey conglomeration of sweet, dried fruits. Raisins, dates, nuts with little bits of flour and something akin to Goo Gone that holds it all together. Something about it though just says holidays, Christmas. I know. I know all too well from the looks I get from my wife and kids, all grown, when I carve off a slice. They only get worse when I eat it and when I say how good it is! No accounting for taste I guess.
But, history is on my side. Fruitcake has travelled to outer space and was once touted as the first energy bar. Originally known as the Roman Satura, it was developed to sustain Roman Legions during long campaigns. Loaded with pine nuts, fruits, honeyed wine and calories this was a staple in a soldier’s diet. When the empire fell variations showed up as panettone, German stollen and British plum pudding. As fruits began to be preserved in sugar more and different types of fruits were added so that almost any home had its own recipe. During Victorian times, fruitcake was canned and often given as gifts. Noblemen would sometimes give slices to carolers in the form of plum pudding and in the Christmas Carol, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” you even get the line, “We won’t go until we get some,” a very direct reference. Eventually, it made its way here, to the colonies and became a tradition and a pretty large business. About seven million pounds are produced EVERY YEAR!
So, there you have it. Fruitcake is rooted in history, eaten by nobles and commoners alike and knows no boundaries. Oh in some countries it is called by a different name, but I maintain that a fruitcake is a fruitcake is a fruitcake, and I guess that could even include Uncle Al. And, I may be in the minority here, but I will eat it and maybe even buy more. No particular brand. In a can or cellophane. Bring it on and it will be gone soon enough. Add cream cheese, butter or plain…GONE!
Fear not all of you who will enjoy it with me. To quote a famous phrase which leaps out of history books, “ If we eat, do we not gain?” (Okay. I made that one up.) But stand and be heard. We shall hold our heads high and loosen our belts. We shall eat and pick fruit and glop out of our teeth for days. And if you ask, we will share. Just don’t make it a habit. This one’s for us!
(My therapist is calling)
One thought on “IN DEFENSE of the FRUITCAKE”
I enjoy the homemade kind where the walnuts on top get singed! yum!