Home Today Is Mail-order fruitcake began in 1913

Mail-order fruitcake began in 1913

Across the United States, fruitcake lovers young and old, commemorate National Fruitcake Day each year on December 27th.

  • Dating back to ancient Rome, one of the earliest known fruitcake recipes lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed into barley mash.
  • Records indicate that in the Middle Ages, makers added honey, spices, and preserved fruits. Recipes for fruitcakes vary from country to country, depending on available ingredients and tradition.
  • In the 16th century, two achievements crystallized to make fruitcakes more affordable and accessible. First, sugar from the American Colonies became abundant. Second, it was discovered that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits. These two actions resulted in excess candied fruit. Consequently, fruitcake making grew.
  • Recipes varied greatly in different countries throughout the ages, depending on the available ingredients as well as (in some instances) church regulations forbidding the use of butter, regarding the observance of fast.
  • Pope Innocent VIII (1432–1492) finally granted the use of butter, in a written permission known as the ‘Butter Letter’ or Butterbrief in 1490, giving permission to Saxony to use milk and butter in the Stollen fruitcakes.
  • In America, mail-order fruitcake began in 1913.
  • In 1935, the expression “nutty as a fruitcake” was coined. The phrase came about as a result of excess nuts some Southern bakeries added to their fruitcakes due to their access to cheap nuts.
  • Some traditional recipes include liqueurs or brandy. Bakers then complete the fruitcake by covering it with powdered sugar.
  • Some fruitcake makers soaked their fruitcakes in brandy-soak linens believing the cakes improved 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 piece of “pineapple fruitcake” went into space with the Apollo 11 mission, but neither Neil Armstrong nor Buzz Aldrin ate it, so back it came to earth. You can see it at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, where it looks exactly the same as it did in 1969.
  • 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.
  • According to Harper’s Index, the ratio of the density of the average fruitcake to the density of mahogany is 1:1.
  • Another fun Harper’s Index fruitcake fact: “Age, in years, of a piece of wedding fruitcake on display at the Grover Cleveland Birthplace, in Caldwell, New Jersey: 135.”
  • Fruitcake can age 25 years and still be eaten (and enjoyed), as long as it contains the proper preservatives and is stored in an airtight container, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
  • Though December gives a nod—if not a bow—to the fruitcake by distinguishing itself as “National Fruitcake Month,” it’s quickly followed by Fruitcake Toss Day on January 3rd. The town of Manitou Springs, Colorado, has become known for taking this day particularly seriously since it commenced its annual “Great Fruitcake Toss” in 1996.
  • Both Claxton, Georgia, home of two bakeries, the Georgia Fruit Cake Company and Claxton Bakery, which together produce four million pounds of fruitcake a year, and Corsicana, Texas claim the title. Claxton apparently has it painted on its water tower.
  • Fruitcake is the gift that keeps on giving.  If you don’t eat it this year or next year or in the next twenty years, you can always join the millions of others who have made fruitcake number 8 on the list of most re-gifted items.

Sources:

National Day Calendar

Mobile-Cuisine

Mental Floss

Cottage Life

How Stuff Works

Fill Your Plate

Just Fun Facts

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here