Across the United States, fruitcake lovers young and old, observe National Fruitcake Day each year on December 27.
Made with chopped candied or dried fruit, nuts and spices and sometimes soaked in “spirits,” fruitcake has been a holiday gift-giving tradition for many years.
Rome is believed to be the creator of fruitcake, and one of the earliest recipes known comes from ancient Rome listing pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and raisins that were mixed into barley mash. Records indicate that in the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added. Recipes for fruitcake vary from country to country depending on available ingredients and tradition.
Sugar from the American Colonies along with the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits, created an excess of candied fruit hence making fruitcakes more affordable and much more popular starting in the 16th century.
- Typically, American fruitcakes are rich in fruits and nuts.
- In America, mail-order fruitcake began in 1913.
- Commercial fruitcakes are often sold, from catalogs, by charities as a fundraising event.
- In 1935, the expression “nutty as a fruitcake” was coined during the time Southern bakeries, Collin Street and Claxton, had access to cheap nuts.
- Most mass-produced fruitcakes in America are alcohol-free.
- Some traditional recipes include liqueurs or brandy and then complete the fruitcake by covering it with powdered sugar.
- Brandy soaked linens have been used to store fruitcakes as some people believe that they improve with age.
- In the early 18th century, fruit cake, then known as plum cake, was outlawed in Europe for being sinfully rich.
- It was the custom in England for unmarried wedding guests to put a slice of the cake, traditionally a dark fruitcake, under their pillow at night so they will dream of the person they will marry.
- In 2006, Americans mailed 2,952 pounds of fruit cake to soldiers stationed in Iraq
- A pineapple fruitcake was taken on the Apollo 11 space mission.
- Every year in January, the Colorado town of Manitou Springs hosts the Great Fruitcake Toss. Competitors compete to see how far they can launch a fruit cake, and the event is to raise money for a local charity.
- Fruitcake can age 25 years and still be eaten, as long as it contains the proper preservatives and is stored in an airtight container.