Christmas time has certain traditions and one is giving fruitcake— to the unsuspecting. There are still people in the U.S. who believe they can rescue this historical cake from the hall of shame. Blame the American fruitcake on the cheap sugar that arrived in Europe from the colonies in the 16th century. Americans began preserving fruit with sugar; intensifying the taste and giving us the color; neon.
Fruitcake is the ancestor of a cake made by women during World War II, the Depression cake. During the Depression, there were shortages of eggs, milk, and butter. Using what they had, cooks experimented with cake with no egg, or butter, understandably it was thick and a bit dry. Its ancestor the fruitcake is rich and heavy as a brick. It is the Depression cake on steroids. It can be weighed down with more wine or rum than a drunken relative. Usually, it contains a cornucopia of fruits: plums, cherries, pineapples, oranges, dates, and pears to name a few. As if that was not enough, someone decided to add nuts, and soon we had the expression, “Nutty as a fruitcake.” *crazy
It is a secret what all goes into a fruitcake. Some people add liquor; others add candied red and green cherries. In addition, you can’t forget the hundreds of raisins that get stuck in your teeth. Yes, you can make it with almost anything, but even the people who make them rarely eat them. Since they are a cheap gift, you usually end up getting two or three as Christmas gifts. Sometimes they are “regifted”, which means it was at least a week old when your friend received it, now they are pawning it off on you ( *giving away something unwanted). There are events like the annual Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs, Colorado, where, if you don't own a fruitcake, you can rent one for 25 cents and see how far you can throw it.
Johnny Carson, a popular late night show host said, “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other."
Fruitcake can resemble its more popular relative from Germany the “Stollen,” which is quite tasty, and welcomed as a delicious cake, a work of art, and an aspiration for many American cooks as they look with envy in German bakery windows. Unfortunately, the fruitcake, its unsophisticated distant relative remains as unwelcome at the holiday dinner table as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein monster.
Trust me; have you ever seen fruitcake on a restaurant menu?
ANNABELLE B-BAUMANN, Communication Coach
"Annabelle I've learned alot from you .....with your friendly art and your diversified lessons... it is never boring!!!" -Doris, BASF
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