Every December, my wife and I clash on the most serious question of our time.
Is fruitcake food or something far more sinister?
My wife belongs to a not-so-secret society that LIKES fruitcake. I find this troubling. To me, the stone-like substance masquerading as dessert is an evil recipe-gone-wrong. How is it possible to take so many tasty goodies and have them become a brick-like, molar-breaking mass. What dark forces are at work?
Let’s look at ingredients in a typical recipe, such as Nicole Routhier’s “Tutti-Frutti Fruitcake” at ingestandimbibe.com.
In alphabetical order, we begin with - apricots, apples, peaches, pears, pineapples and raisins.
Great so far. Apricots, eh? OK. But apples? APPLE PIE, APPLE SAUCE, CARAMEL APPLES.
Peaches and pears? Individually or together, I’ll take them whole, sliced, diced, cobbler or in a pie.
Pineapples? Pizza isn’t pizza without pineapples, and what’s a good hike or camping trip without raisins?
What’s next on Routhier’s list? Bourbon or dark rum.
I’m not a Southerner, so I have no use for bourbon. But rum? Now you’re talking, and the next thing on the list?
Orange juice. In the kitchen with Rum and OJ! Why bother baking?
Now we run into trouble. Cloves. Really? Mixed with fruit? Cloven-evil, stay away from my stove!
Then what else gets tossed in?
Eggs, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda. Basic cake stuff. What could be wrong here? And then it’s finished off with almonds, butter, honey, and heavy cream. Sounds wonderful, right?
It may look good on paper. But trust me, something possessed the dough in the darkness. It’s hopeless—too much, too late. It’s fruitcake.
Aficionados defend it, but fruitcake is the least-edible-food on the planet. How bad? Even bacteria won’t touch it. Jay Leno once sampled a 125-year-old heirloom loaf, according to an article in the Tuscaloosa News of December ‘03.
“Needs more aging,” Leno said. So the cake’s care-takers, rewrapped it in a rum-soaked-cloth, apparently to be brought out in another 125 years. No doubt, the show will be hosted by Jay.
Can’t we just eat honey-roasted almonds? Or whip cream on peaches? What compels people to make fruitcake?
I took my question to Wikipedia, the infallible source on things the Britannica is afraid to print. In “Fruitcakes Found in Tut’s Tomb,” I learned ancient Egyptians thought the loaf-that-never-expires was necessary in the afterlife.
“Perhaps it was used for immortality,” says Prof. I.N. Edible. No word yet on whether the Pharos used it to enter the afterlife. “It’s true that some ancients committed suicide to pass into the next world, but toxicological studies of mummies are inconclusive on this point.”
Inconclusive? Really? Were the mummies smiling? Or nonplussed? That ought to answer the question.
Fruitcakes may be timeless, but we know now they’re deadly. How? Buried in a forthcoming Journal of the American Fruitcake Society scholarly article, I read a tale of invasion and cultural extermination. It’s an eye-opener, and shows that we had it ALL WRONG about the history of Mexico.
THE MAYAN FRUITCAKE CONNECTION – REVEALED.
“Code-breakers have debunked Mayan-calendar-myth. From their efforts, and the seminal work of semi-journalists on Wiki-Leaks, We now know the story our government has been trying to silence. Space aliens contacted the Mayans, gave them secrets of advanced mathematics, celestial mechanics, and, sadly, fruitcake technology.” JAFS 4-1-2012.
The good news—The stone disk doesn’t foretell the end-of-the-world.
The bad news—It’s a food warning–label chiseled on a granite-patty.
Think about it. Their “calendar” features a disgusted face. THEY WERE SENDING AN ALERT.
Don’t believe me? Check it out yourself on the PFN - The Psychic Fruitcake Network at 1-800-I-WILL-SWALLOW-ANYTHING, extension 12-21. Hear the whole story for only $25 a minute.
So, no, I won’t be eating fruitcake, even though December 27th is National Fruitcake Day.
But if you get a fruitcake from some starry-eyed Mayan descendent…. Fear not. Saturday, January 5th is “The Annual Great Fruitcake Toss” in Colorado. For a small fee, you can hurl your unwanted, stone-like loaf into the void. You may even win a prize. The event is a popular tradition in Manitou.
I channeled event organizer Skip A. Stone. He claims that the annual gathering meets “a serious need… offering people a place to put that-which-no-landfill-wants.” Skip denied rumors of an EPA shut-down.”
“No way we’re a Superfund-site.” He shook his fist. “Fruitcake may be indestructible, but it’s arguably organic.” He pointed to a wall of recipes. “There’s no evidence of PCBs, fluorocarbons, or nutritional content.” Skip donned rubber gloves, grabbed tongs and lifted a cake for my inspection.
“See?” He thrust the loaf in my face. “The main ingredient is flour—a heated hydrocarbon. No worse than manure.”
I flinched. He dropped the fruitcake on the counter. It landed with a thud.
“But they don’t stink. “ Skip nodded in contemplation “Mostly, they’ve got a nice, rummy smell.”
“So, they’re safe for human consumption?”
“Didn’t say that.” He shook his head. “Just nothin’ illegal…. I think.”
“What about the EPA complaint?” I asked.
He shrugged. “What’re they gonna do? Nevada offered a fruitcake-disposal site. It bogged down in Congress.”
Skip did concede the cakes can sit for centuries, but he sees this as a plus.
“We may build a museum,” he said. “The ‘Natural History of the American Fruitcake—A Retrospective.’ All we need is a roof, a backhoe, and some dynamite.”
“Lots of dynamite.”
Editor's note: This a best-of column that was originally published December 20, 2012.
Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe - "Or So it Seems™" - Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County.