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 July 22, 2003
House & Home
Yellow Pages
The Infamous Fruitcake
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The holidays roll around each each and with the holidays comes fruitcake.  But, do you know the history of The Fruitcake?

Few people really like, or admit it liking, fruitcake, however, it has been around for centuries.

The oldest references to fruitcake dates back to ancient Roman times when they contained pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed with barley mash. 

Then in the middle ages, fruitcakes were made sweeter using honey, preserved fruits and spices making them tasty desserts. Crusaders and hunters carried fruitcake to feed themselves over long periods of time away from home, as it kept longer than other types of food.

Although in modern times we associate fruitcake with Christmas, since the 1700's fruitcake has been used in ceremonial celebrations of all kinds throughout Europe, including religious holidays, harvest celebrations, birthdays and weddings.

In Europe in the 1700�s, fruitcake is tied to the nut harvest.  After the harvest was complete, they mixed nuts from the harvest together and made a fruitcake that they saved until the harvest the next year. The next year, they would ceremoniously eat the old fruitcake hoping it will bring them another successful harvest.

Between 1837 and 1901, fruitcake was extremely popular.  A Victorian "Tea" would not have been complete without the addition of the fruitcake to the sweet and savory spread.  Queen Victoria is said to have waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste. 

Also, it is 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.

It appears that because of the ceremony and tradition tied to fruitcake it to survive through the centuries.



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