Holiday Fruitcake - The Tradition

Holiday Fruitcake - History and Tradition

Ah, fruitcake. A common joke in the Christmas tradition, this dense, heavy cake is often considered an unbreakable, indigestible, indestructible punch line to jokes about Christmas traditions. But is it really such a thing? And where did these come from in the first place?

Fruitcake is a traditional dessert made with candied fruit, dried fruit, nuts and/or spices, and often is soaked in some sort of spirits. There is references to similar cakes going back as far as Roman times! They come in various forms in different countries, with differences to the recipe and ingredients. The most common American recipes contained a large number of nuts, which led to the phrase “nutty as a fruitcake” in the 30s. Considered a healthy food due to the fruit and fiber content, fruitcake is actually good for you, as long as the sugar intake is taken into consideration, of course.

Fruitcake was attached to the Christmas tradition slowly. It began as a ceremonial type of cake made to celebrate a specific harvest. England passed laws restricting the use of the cake to holidays, which slowly spread the concept in that direction.

As an unusual, heavily sugared treat, it isn’t surprising that fruitcake became something of a target for jokes. The fact that the cake is heavy, and can last for a surprising amount of time (months normally, even longer if spirits have been used in the production) gives it a stigma of being inedible, and the jokes arose about them being passed around constantly between people.

There may be issues in the reputation of the treat, but there is no reason to assume that you should not have one this year. Consider keeping the tradition alive today.

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