Don’t be naughty, be nice to fruitcake

As I address our 2013 Christmas cards, I look again at those we received a year ago. One tickled me then and now because it mentions Jim’s and my most favorite Christmas delight.

Fruitcake.

On the front of this particular Christmas card is a picture of the couple’s two lovely daughters. On the back are these words:

Be merry – not moody.

Spread cheer – not colds

Give love – not fruitcake

Poor fruitcake! Why does something so pretty and appealing to the eye and palate get such a bum rap?

Some say it may have all started with comedians. Apparently Johnny Carson made the statement that there’s only one fruitcake in the whole world and it just keeps getting re-gifted.

Rumor also has it that some Boeing Company engineers invented a piece of artillery for launching a fruitcake 1,420 feet high. And evidently, Manitou Springs, Colo., is known for its annual tossing competition to see who can throw one the farthest.

That’s terrible!

I have always loved fruitcake, even as a child, and I wonder, if it’s so bad, why has it been around for so long?

As for Jim, it’s only been in the last few years that he has decided he likes it. You’ve heard the phrase, “try it, you’ll like it?” Well, Jim is thinking now that he had never actually tried it. And when he did – lo and behold – he loved the rum (or brandy) flavor with the fruit and nuts. In fact, our fruitcake didn’t last long enough last year and I had to make more right after Christmas.

All winter long, a slice with a mug of steaming dark roast makes the fire even cozier.

I decided to poll a few of my friends about fruitcake asking, “do you love it or despise it and why?” Here are their answers: some speak with affection, some not so much and others are hilarious!

Sarah Buescher — I don’t like store bought fruitcake. Like most things the homemade version tastes better because there was love put into it. I like the kind of fruitcake that contains real fruit and not the candied fruit, simply because I don’t like the taste of candied fruit. I did not grow up with the tradition of fruitcake and the first time I ever had some was last year. I think if I grew up with it I would love it and the memories that would come with fruitcake at Christmas. Sometimes it is the memories that make it taste so good.

Pat Guthmiller – I hate it! It’s dry and hard and I never have liked dried fruit. The only (good) part of it was the apricot brandy my mother used when she made it.

Jane Glander – Love love love fruitcake if it’s got a little cake around the fruit. I love it because I ate it with my dad. We both loved it.

Judy LeClerc – Well, I do not like fruitcake especially if it has dates in it! My husband, Ray, on the other hand, likes fruitcake and ate a whole one within days last Christmas. I’ve always thought that they make good doorstops! Or if they are round, good hockey pucks!!

Craig Fenske – I like it because of the candy in it.

Paul Schuette — I think many people who don’t like fruitcake have never tried fruitcake. They just think it must be bad because of all the “bad rap” stuff they’ve heard through the years. I like fruitcake and I always have. What’s not to like about it? Everything in a fruitcake is good. If you eat enough of it you might even get a little buzz from the brandy. . . well, maybe not.

Ryan Bakken — It’s amazing how much taste buds change over the years. I’ve realized that many foods I used to dread are now tasty and vice versa. My big problem with fruitcake is that it’s so dense and the red and green candies in them are too chewy. I guess I haven’t tried it lately to see if my tastes have changed.

Vickie Evenson – Ha ha! To funny! I have never cared for fruitcake (and that is a very gracious way to put that) because the flavors of the fruits are so distastefully distorted, and each bite feels like I’m swallowing lead. I have heard many people say that fruitcake appeals mainly to the elderly, however, I know there are so many more recipes out there that are changing minds towards it. Maybe I should give it another chance!

Marlys Johnson – I was with Jim. Before I said I did not like fruitcake! But did I ever try it? I’m not sure. Now I LOVE fruitcake because I love the recipe you gave me. I just made some this week and it is delicious!

Laurie Borth – I hate fruitcake. I hate the way it tastes!

Ione Sandberg — I really like fruitcake!  I think it reminds me of my childhood when my mother made fruitcake every year around Christmas time.  It would be served to ‘company’ and so whenever the fruitcake came out of the freezer, I knew someone was coming to visit.

Harold Tanke –It depends on who makes it. Some I like and some I don’t.

Ken Drees — I have always liked fruitcake. My mom made it every Christmastime and Maureen made some in the distant past. It would be a good tradition to bring back. The reason for the bad rap might be its sheer density. The fact that you could weaponize one just by putting it into the freezer kinda makes them fair game.

The fruitcake recipe I use is from my cousin, Gloria Bethke, and posted on my Nov. 9, 2012 blog. The slice in the photo above is calling me. Time to sit by the fire and enjoy it with a cup of java.

Until Soon

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