National fruitcake month
December 6th, 2012
09:00 AM ET
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.

Love it, or love to loathe it - December is National Fruitcake Month!

So maybe you didn't manage to finish off that fruitcake Aunt Betty is always so kind to bring you for Christmas ... every single year. The good news is, you still have time to enjoy it!

Fruitcake gets its name from the variety of chopped candied fruit and nuts that stud the batter and exterior of the round. The earliest known fruitcake, discovered via an ancient Roman recipe, included pomegranate seeds, raisins and pine nuts. During the Middle Ages, innovative minds tossed preserved fruit, spices and honey into the mix.

Recipes have varied over time largely due to what was available, although there was a bit of a kerfuffle when church regulations banned the use of butter because of fasting. But good old Pope Innocent VIII granted permission in the "Butter Letter" of 1490, specifically to use butter and milk in German Stollen fruitcakes. Yes folks, it's that official.

When explorers discovered vast amounts of sugar in the Americas in the 1500s, as well as the fact that a boatload of sugar could be used to preserve fruit, our favorite little red and green sugary nubs were born. In the U.S., mail-order fruitcakes began as early as 1913. Traditionally, the cakes are soaked in brandy to preserve them and prevent mold, although many of our mass-produced fruitcakes are free of any alcohol.

Although we may ridicule fruitcakes extensively here in the U.S., they aren't always used just for a doorstop or the Great Fruitcake Toss on the first Saturday of January. If you weren't one of the lucky ducks to get a fruitcake for the holidays this year, it's not too late to make your own. Just remember that your neighbors may not feel the same if you want to share.

We originally published this in 2011, but like fruitcake, it doesn't get stale.

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Filed under: Breakfast Buffet • Food Holidays • News

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. steve

    just because you fools have never had a good fruitcake doesn't mean that fruitcake is bad. find a good local bakery that makes it with real dried fruit and is soaked in good spirits. it will change your opinion on fruit cake.

    December 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  2. Jorge

    5000 years from now some archaeologist will find a North American mausoleum belonging to a rich, not-very-well-liked tychoon who died on Christmas Day. His coffin will be surrounded by an assortment of mementos from acquaintances and secret foes, including several...FRUITCAKES. They will look, feel and be exactly as inedible when their packages are opened as they were when freshly baked. Said archaeologist will give somebody he hates one of them as a Christmas present, which will be recieved with a stiff smile and conveniently passed on to someone else later on...

    December 10, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  3. ieguy

    I love fruitcakes. I have standing orders to all family and friends to send whatever ones they get that they don't want to me. I can eat them till June! One of the best I ever had was was England

    December 7, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  4. Amir Ali

    Its Sheraton Hotel in Pakistan and Marriots PC Avari Towers and PIA in best fruit cakes PIA having own quality in fruit cakes i saw some many years..

    December 7, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  5. Hannover

    Yes, fruitcake has survived.. Literally... the same fruitcake has survived since the first one was made. It just keeps getting re-gifted over the centuries, that's why no one ever eats them.

    December 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  6. Ray

    nom nom nom nom nom

    December 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  7. Pax Vobiscum

    We have a family tradition of getting several of the cheap fruitcakes each Christmas, then we soak them in our favorite brandy or liqueur in a Ziploc bag and let it cure in the back of the refrigerator until the next year. Then, we open it up and enjoy while making the same treat for next year. This makes for a very nice treat and the fruitcake actually improves with age (when soaked in booze).

    December 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  8. hawkechik

    I think you could have phrased that a bit better. ". . . discovered vast amounts of sugar. . . " sounds like they discovered sugar mines or something. What was discovered was a climate that was very friendly to sugarcane.

    December 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  9. JustOneMore

    You'll notice it says "Sell By Feb 15", but doesn't say which year.

    December 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  10. shortbus

    i think im going to be sick

    December 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  11. Drew

    Fruitcake is great! I just bought one last week. The expiration date said "Sell By Feb 15". It will last a lot longer than any bread you can buy.

    December 6, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  12. Richard Simmons


    December 6, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  13. RichardHead

    The BEST fruit cake is from Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana,Texas. No Doubt.

    December 6, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • tanthonyS

      I've order from Colin Street Bakery and it's great. We love fruitcake grilled/toasted, with a scoop of ice cream on top!

      December 6, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  14. americal

    my mom would make brandy fruit cakes for Christmas in late spring, wrapped in wax paper they sat in the closet for months. where have the goood fruitcakes gone? sniff...

    December 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  15. Claire

    I made a fruitcake you'd actually want to eat! Dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, apricots) instead of candied, and bittersweet chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. WIth a chocolate rum ganache on top. Yum.

    December 28, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Jerv

      Awesome, thanks for sharing.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:36 am |
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