Today, December 27, marks National Fruitcake Day, the lesser-known holiday between Christmas and New Year’s Eve that celebrates the polarizing Yuletide loaf. Typically made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts, and spices, often soaked in booze, and known for its brick-like density and heft, it’s the treat some LOVE and the gift that so many others HATE to receive. Here’s what you should know about the eternally re-gifted gateau.
10 Things You Should Know About Fruitcake
1. A whopping 38% of people say they give fruitcakes away when they receive them.
2. Culinary lore claims that the ancient Egyptians placed an early version of fruitcake in the tombs of loved ones as food for the afterlife.
3. But the ancient Romans are believed to be the folks who created the common fruitcake… one of the earliest recipes lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash.
4. Records indicate that in the Middle Ages, honey, spices and preserved fruits were added. In fact, the Crusaders were known for eating fruitcakes during their epic journeys from Europe to Palestine. The small cakes could last long trips without spoiling and were full of nutritious tidbits like dried fruits and nuts.
5. Sugar from the American Colonies along with the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits, created an excess of candied fruit. This made fruitcakes more affordable and much more popular starting in the 16th century.
“Any decent dinner ends with dessert and there is none more worthy and elegant than fruitcake.” – Marie Rudisill aka The Fruitcake Lady from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
6. In America, mail-order fruitcake began in 1913.
7. In 1935, the expression “nutty as a fruitcake” was coined during the time Southern bakeries, Collin Street and Claxton, had access to cheap nuts.
8. Brandy soaked linens have been used to store fruitcakes as some people believe that they improve with age.
9. On December 30, 2008, in Romania, a Guinness-approved record was set for the heaviest fruitcake ever made… it weighed in at a whopping 619-lbs. Talk about a belly bomb!
10. The competitive eating record for fruitcake is 4-lbs 14 1/4 -oz eaten in 10 minutes. It was set back on December 30, 2003 by Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas. At a diminutive 105 pounds, she is the most successful female competitive eater.