Fruit Cake or Bust! ??

By Don Rush

Well, if you haven’t already figured it out, it’s the holiday season. I know there’s a couple of radio stations playing Christmas music 24/7, Christmas lights are twinkling all over town, we’ve had a dusting of snow and it’s getting colder and windier than just a few weeks ago. And, since it is the season of goodwill and all that jazz, I ask you, why not make fun of fruitcake?

It’s a simple question and one that should not offend anybody (at least I hope).

What started me thinking about fruitcakes was when I was walking through Neiman’s Family Market the other week. I must not have COVID, because my sniffer is working like a champion. With my super olfactory organs I smelled something wonderful wafting around the rarified grocery store air. I tracked down owner Nate Neiman and asked him what deliciousness was cooking – I wanted some of whatever “it” was and I wanted to buy it and take it home with me. Nate proudly smiled and said, “We just finished making our fruitcake.”

I left him there alone smiling, “Oh.”

I walked away.

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I’m not sure why I don’t like fruitcake. Just like pickled herring I’ve tried to take “polite” bites of fruitcake and it’s . . . well, it’s just not my cup of tea. (However, upon reflection, I must admit fruitcake is better than pickled, or creamed herring. That stuff shivers me timbers.) Maybe it’s the way fruitcake looks, all those different colors and fruits. My great grandparents had it every Christmas and I think Grandma Rush did, too. Fruitcake has never looked appealing to my eye, so maybe somewhere deep inside my psyche I convinced myself fruitcake could not taste good based solely on the look. I know, I know. I know you’re saying, “Don don’t judge a book by its cover.” To which I reply, “So, what? When it comes to fruitcake, I’m Judgy McJudge.”

Before typing up this column I hopped online and looked up “What’s in Fruitcake.” I found fruitcake is made of candied/dried fruit, nuts, spices and spirits (not the ghostly apparition kind). I also found this, “Fruitcake is an ancient goody, with the oldest versions a sort of energy bar made by the Romans to sustain their soldiers in battle. The Roman fruitcake was a mash of barley, honey, wine and dried fruit, often pomegranate seeds.”

So, now you know that but did you know they have a super long shelf life?

I found an article by Jeffrey Miller for PBS he wrote in 2021. Wrote he: Two friends from Iowa have been exchanging the same fruitcake since the late 1950s. Even older is the fruitcake left behind in Antarctica by the explorer Robert Falcon Scott in 1910. But the honor for the oldest known existing fruitcake goes to one that was baked in 1878 when Rutherford B. Hayes was president of the United States. What’s amazing about these old fruitcakes is that people have tasted them and lived, meaning they are still edible after all these years. The trifecta of sugar, low moisture ingredients and some high-proof spirits make fruitcakes some of the longest-lasting foods in the world.”

There’s that which leads into a joke Johnny Carson told, “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

I suppose – maybe — fruitcake can represent life. John Ronson is attributed as saying, “Friends are the fruitcake of life — some nutty, some soaked in alcohol, some sweet.” A. Lee Martinez is quoted as saying, “Reality is like a fruitcake; pretty enough to look at but with all sorts of nasty things lurking just beneath the surface.”

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I guess some people must like fruitcake, Neiman’s makes ‘em to sell so they must be popular for some reason. I mean the grocery store wouldn’t make them not to sell, right? I’m sure they sell a lot of them but to whom do the fruitcakes toll?

Still, I ponder: Does anybody really eat fruitcake? Aside from Nate Neiman, I’ve found when you mention fruitcake, people get funny looks on their faces. Which started me thinking some more. Aside from eating, what can you do with a fruitcake once you buy one?

Here’s Don’s Top 10 Things You Can Do With A Fruitcake.
10. Give as a gift to that ‘special’ somebody
9. Sell to somebody else
8. Wear around your neck while you sleep to fend off little fairies and whacked-out elves
7. Throw ’em in the back of the pickup for added weight during the winter driving season
6. Makes a great paperweight
5. Cut ’em up, shellac ’em, hook ’em and make Christmas decorations
4. Bomb shelter building material, would also serve as emergency food rations in case of the ‘big one.’
3. Makes a festive looking anchor
2. or a colorful looking doorstop.
And the Number 1 thing I can do with a fruitcake is not to buy one for any of the previous nine reasons.

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If you’re inclined, convince me I’m wrong about fruitcake. Send your reasons via email to

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