December 25, 2006

Fruitcake Eaters & The Jay Leno Fruitcake Lady Clip

Someone has been eating the fruitcake.

A large platter of fruitcake was set out last night and by noon today, only two small pieces remained. I was shocked. "Who here likes fruitcake?" I demanded of my in-laws when I saw the telling remnants. There was an awkward silence and then my mother in law confessed, "actually I kind of like it..."

It was a sobering moment. I had so many accusations, questions and pleas spinning in my head. My stare was fixed on the cake platter and I couldn't understand how something this terrible could happen on Christmas day. After six years of marriage into Spike's family I suddenly discover them to be fruitcake eaters. How could I have known? The sick feeling in my stomach could only be compared to finding out that your spouse has contracted some devastating disease. Now what? Like so many before me, I realized that education was my only defense. Perhaps if I learned more about this disgusting food I would be able to ensure others I love don't contract a taste for it unwittingly. And so I did some research to better understand these people. These Fruitcake Eaters.

The oldest known fruitcake is approximately 130 years old and lives under glass in a Michigan home. It was baked by a woman in preparation for a Thanksgiving meal in 1878 but she died right before the holiday and her family didn't have the heart to eat it. So instead of throwing it out, they saved it and passed it down through the generations. In 2005 this fruitcake made an appearance on The Tonight Show and Jay Leno actually took a bite. And just like every other fruitcake ever made in this world, it was nasty.

Fruitcake has even brought individuals national fame. "The Fruitcake Lady" was a favorite on the Jay Leno show, appearing regularly on the "Ask the Fruitcake Lady" segment. If there was ever a niche market, this was it. If you want to see a 90 year old woman putting movie stars in their place, check out this video

Basting fruitcakes with liquor and powdering them with sugar on occasion prevents mold and ensures their long shelf life. Many people believe this is the charm of fruitcake similar to a fine wine and will wait up to 25 years to eat them. The rainbow colored chunks inside the cake are actually fruit despite their suspicious appearance. Standard ingredients are red and green candied cherries, dried pineapple and raisins. Of course, anything can go into these monstrosities and recipes vary.

Fruitcakes have existed since Roman times but it appears people got fed up with them and in the 1700's fruitcake was banned throughout Continental Europe for being "sinful." Why that ban was lifted I'll never know. But consequently, they have inspired such a rabid fan base that their continuance in our society is likely. Thanks to a zealous groups ensuring the perpetuation of outdated fads, you can now join The Society for the Preservation and Protection of Fruitcake which gives number of recipes and testimonials relating to people's conversion to the dark side. Okay, so you really just eat the things for the liquor they have been soaking in for ten years. But this dirty little fact never has to face the light of day if you join this society and use their front of perpetuating ridiculous recipes and meaningless fruitcake trivia.

Sadly, it appears the recipe is here to say. But in our P.C. times, fruitcakes are just not acceptable. Since its inception, the word "fruitcake" had picked up several negative connotations in our society. It alludes to someone's mental instability as well as being a pejorative slam on one's sexual orientation. If we insist on keeping this nasty confection around, can't we at least change its name to reflect our more sensitive era? How about "rum log" or "mummy-cake?" Do we really have to drag homosexuals and mentally unstable into all this candied mess? It's just not right.

In 2005, fruitcake was officially listed as a national security threat. Airline passengers were banned from bring them as a carry-on when flying. Because of their extreme density, the x-ray machines at screening points were unable to determine if they contained hidden weapons and every fruitcake that went through security had to be carefully inspected. Rather than have to deal with all the fruitcakes (the food, not the people) flying around the county at Christmas time, the government simply banned them. But was this enough to stop their proliferation? Heavens no.

It turns out that several monasteries in the United States have taken to producing fruitcakes for added income. The 14 monks of Assumption Abbey in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri create 23,000 fruitcakes per holiday season. I wonder how much of the liquor that is bought for these cakes makes it into the actual product but a vow of silence from the monks will keep that a secret forever. There are, however, other ways to capitalize on fruitcakes. Manitoba, Canada held its 12th annual Fruitcake Toss last January. The winner catapulted his fruitcake almost 450 feet. The festivities also included a beauty pageant where the most beautiful as well as the most revolting looking cake were recognized and rewarded.

With this knowledge in hand, I am perhaps better equipped to face my in-laws for the remainder of my Christmas visit. Is it their fault that they fell prey to the alcohol-soaked confection? After all, there is a long, dark history of others who have been similarly seduced. My relationship with my husband's family will forever be changed, but hopefully with increased global awareness and a concerted drive to keep this holiday cake away from our children, we can someday rid the world of this sick addiction. This is my Christmas wish. So please, over the holidays ask your loved ones if they too have taken to eating this dark treat late at night. It could be the most important conversation you'll ever have.

Don't forget to watch The Fruitcake Lady Clip!


Annie said...

You MUST submit this incredibly informative essay to the radio stations/magazines! It is hilarious! I hope you didn't spend your whole holiday doing research?
Especially I loved the part about the monks' vow of silence.

Lisa M. said...

My mother adds orange, lemon and lime rhine to her fruit cakes, but doesn't add the liquor of course, which personally anyone who eats it, needs, I think. She then glazes it with a corn syrup glaze.



Arpit said...

I write a blog Technical Bliss.
Can we exchange links? If yes then add me in your blogroll and drop a msg on my blog and i will add you in my blog roll.

chronicler said...

Okay now I know who the real fruitcake is! Anyone who spends their time doing this kind of research....


Janell said...

A wonderful essay!

Mumsy said...

Uh, I like fruitcake too. And I'm your mother. So don't make such a big deal about the horror of marrying into a fruitcakey family. You COME from a fruitcakey family! Hah! Lots of love Flakeward, by the way. We put up a photo of PJ with Santa on the children's table chez nous in honor of our ONE missing grandchild this year.

BTW, did you know your posts are replicated in duplicate this time around. What's technically wrong?

Kristine said...

This is one of the scariest posts I've read in a long time.

I truly sorrow that you had such a many years after you got married too.

Shocking really, just shocking.

Do you think you will recover?

Rachelle Black said...

Ho boy,
I'm in deep doo-doo....
We've always heard about the aunt who was 'nuttier than a fruitcake' and just yesterday while visiting my mother for Christmas, what do I find in her fridge (you know, the one she hides out in the craft room?)?

Yup, you guessed it....

Now I know it must be hereditary.
What are the first symptoms of fruitcake eating disorder?? I simply must prepare myself....

Sharon said...

Sarah --
Found your blog from a link on a link a friend sent me. Thought, "Hmmmm... Sarah Flake sound familiar. Then saw the photo. Then read the profile.

But anyway, you need to try the fruitcake from the Collin Street Bakery in good old Corsicana, Texas. Really pretty good. Check them out.

Sharon Cliff
aka the Primary President when Caroline was a wee one (before your Mom took over.. of the D1 Primary, that is... she's always been large and in charge)admirer of teenage John Benac and Annie's RED pixie cut. Yes, this was the early '90s. : )

passive voice said...

Late to the party (just started reading your blog and am making my way through the things you ehat.) I have always maintained that fruit cake is an over 40 food. Course now that I'm getting closer to 40, I might have to up that to over-50 food. Thanks for the laught