If you come to visit me, and I hope you will, I must forewarn you: I like fruitcake. Perhaps you remember my confession last year or perhaps not. Never mind. Last year, this year…it’s all the same. When Christmas rolls around it’s time to roll out the fruitcake.
The fruitcake I covet is not the doorstop grandma made and you threw in the trunk to be hauled out when you were stuck in a ditch and needed traction. No, siree. Last year’s Ode to Fruitcake we published here on Indie Albany was filled with sun-kissed raisins, walnuts, and delicate jewels of candied fruit.
In case you forgot, here’s a little history lesson. Did you know that…
The fruitcake was carried along by Roman soldiers as they conquered the known world. The Crusaders ate it and they weren’t fooling around either. Fruitcake is not for sissies.
And can you forget that…
The joyful peasants of 17th century England made a nut cake and ate it the following year to celebrate the harvest and lo! the custom of soaking the cake in booze for a year was born.
Or how about…
By the 18th century the sinfully rich, decadent, voluptuous, full-bodied fruitcake was banned by culinary prudes throughout Europe, who were freaked out by its saucy come hither sweetness. By the end of that century laws had been passed to restrict its sale.
And because being a royal never goes out of style…
Enter Queen Victoria, long did she reign. And might the secret to her success be partly hidden in the slices of fruitcake she consumed with high tea? In fact, and New York State pols take note: “Queen Victoria is said to have waited a year to eat fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste.” Hail to the Queen! Perhaps we should encourage fruitcake dispensers in the legislative lobby?
But it wasn’t destined to last. It never does.
Somewhere in the Twentieth Century it all went horribly wrong. First it was a cup too much flour and a cup too little liquid. Then someone forgot they were making cakes and not cinder blocks. Next it was the truckload of mass-produced sticky neon-colored bits of candied fruit. Or were they really bits of old waxed fruit from auntie’s dining table centerpiece?
Either way, the magic was gone.
Now the glories of fruitcake are a memory savored by connoisseurs and those they prey upon. But in case you’re tired of hiding your fruitcakes in the neighbor’s mailbox before sunup, how about a trip out West? It’s the Sixteenth Annual Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs, Colorado, scheduled for January 8 and the crowd is expected to top last years. There’s even a $1 fruitcake rental, in case you don’t have your own. You have about a month to get in shape. This year participants can compete in the Kids Toss, the Fruitcake Toss, the Fruitcake Launch using a mechanical device, and, the ultimate: the Pneumatic Guns or Cannon category. There’s even a Spatula Race and a Fruitcake Glamour Competition. Don’t miss out this year.
But in case you must…
Just a reminder about the history making moment in 2006 when Thom Castonguay blew up fruitcakes in something called a “bomb calorimeter”. Strictly in the interest of advancing our scientific knowledge of exploding fruitcakes.
And, in the end…
Perhaps all of this has whetted your sympathies for the maligned fruitcake. In that case, there’s Fruitcake Rescue, where you can give an adoptable fruitcake a home for the holidays.
It just seems like the right thing to do.