Does anyone in your family make fruitcakes?
These baked goods are filled with candied/dried fruits, like cherries and raisins, nuts, and spices. They are dense, sweet, and maybe most famous for one thing: the idea that they can last forever. As early as 1913, you could order fruitcakes by mail in the United States (think about how long it took things to arrive by mail in those days!).
Now a new discovery is adding to the fruitcake's reputation as the dessert that won't die. A 107 year-old fruitcake has been found at an abandoned explorer hut on Cape Adare, Antarctica. And, apparently, it looks almost good enough to eat!
New land, old cake
The cake was brought to Antarctica by explorers in the Terra Nova expedition between 1910 and 1912. ("Terra Nova" means "new land".) This British expedition was led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Its mission was to collect information about Antarctica, as well as try to be the first to reach the geographic South Pole.
Scott was second to the pole, beaten there by Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his team. Tragically, Scott and his crew died in late 1912 on their return journey to their ship. But many artifacts survived, including this cake made by a British company called Huntley & Palmers.
Saving the past
A New Zealand group called the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) discovered the cake while collecting artifacts from Scott's mission. One prime location where they've collected items is Cape Adare. This is where the Terra Nova expedition built a hut to live in during the winters of 1911 and 1912.
AHT's research at the cape has produced around 1,500 different artifacts over this last year. But the fruitcake really stands apart from the other items for its almost new condition.
"With just two weeks to go on the conservation of the Cape Adare artifacts," said program manager Lizzie Meek, "finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise."
Whether or not you could get us to actually take a bite, it is a reminder that if you ever wanted a high-energy, long-lasting food to take on a camping trip, you could do a lot worse than a loaf of Grandma's fruitcake.