Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fruitcake From... When?

It sounds strange, but in many countries around the world fruitcake is a highly prized dessert. In the United States it's a fate worse than death.

Many a story has been told about the longevity of fruitcake, this stemming from two reasons: the lengthy shelf life fruit enjoys when treated with high concentrations of sugar, and the even lengthier life cake itself enjoys when soaked in brandy or variations thereof. This has led to many an interesting moment over the years when tee-totaling family members suddenly break into a rousing chorus of "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" shortly after dessert.

The unquestioned king, or queen, of fruitcakes belongs to the Ford family, no known relation to Henry Ford. The story goes that late in 1878 - yes, 1878, not 1978 - one Fidelia Ford baked her annual fruitcake for her children and grandchildren, with the idea it would be served the following Thanksgiving as many believe a properly preserved fruitcake improves with age. Alas, Filedia shuffled off this mortal coil prior to Thanksgiving 1879, one of the results being her grieving family deciding they would set her fruitcake aside until the following year as they couldn't bear to consume this memento. Next year, same thing. And the next. And the next. And the next. Next thing you knew... well, suffice it to say the fruitcake is still with us, something that anyone who's ever tried to actually eat one usually says for several hours afterward.

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