Johnny Carson said it, and I believed it. Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving, he began the Christmas season by reminding us, “There’s only one fruitcake in the world. It’s been passed around from person to person since time immemorial, and it doesn’t matter how hard you try. You’ll never escape The Fruitcake.” Fruitcakes are known to take on lives of their own, passing from one person to the next, sometimes lingering long enough to carbon-date. Cut one open, if you dare, and figure its age like you’d count the rings of some ancient tree.
When I was in elementary school, my mother worked at Collin Street Bakery. Anyone who recognizes that name knows what they are famous for – red tins of fruitcakes. In our home, this was not just a Christmas phenomenon; it was a regular occurrence throughout the year. Mom would bring home the extras, and those things never go bad. Perhaps my dislike for them comes from having them so often.
Behind every fruitcake, of course, lurks a fruitcake-baker, and over the years people have tried to convince me they have finally discovered the secret to truly good fruitcake – soaking the raisins in bourbon, pouring brandy over the finished cake, substituting walnuts for pecans, eliminating the candied pineapple. No matter the adaptation, my opinion never wavers. Fruitcake is dense, dry and tasteless, except when it is gummy, sticky and tasteless. It is a grim excuse for a dessert and a terrible holiday tradition.
In the event I receive one of these unwanted traditions this year, I have found a great website – fruitcakerescue.com. Yes, you can give a fruitcake a home by mailing it to this place in Michigan “where they will be lovingly cared for until we can find them a new home or are enjoyed by Stan”. God bless you, Stan. It is good to know there is a place for the fruitcakes that are abused, forgotten, abandoned and unloved. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me soon.