107 year-old fruitcake discovered in Antarctica

Somehow researchers resisted the temptation to take a bite...
fruitcake antartica The remarkably well-preserved fruitcake in its original wrapping. (Antarctica Heritage Trust)

Does anyone in your family make fruitcakes?

Embed from Getty Images

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

Embed from Getty Images

Crew members of the Terra Nova expedition pose for a picture on their ship. (Getty Embed)

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.

Embed from Getty Images

The S.S. Terra Nova resting in the ice of Antarctica. (Getty Embed)

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

fruitcake antartica

The tin containing the cake may have been rusted, but the cake inside was well protected. (Antarctic Heritage Trust)

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.

Embed from Getty Images

Terra Nova's cook prepares pies for the crew. Nearly all of the food brought on the journey needed to be preserved in cans or tins. (Getty Embed)

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.

fruitcake antartica

An a-peeling find. (Antarctic Heritage Trust)

"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.

4 commentsWrite a message

Tell US what you think

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


 :-)  ;-)  :-D  :-(  :-P  :-o  :-x  :-|  :-?  8-)  8-O  :cry:  :lol:  :roll:  :idea:  :!:  :?:  :oops:

  1. Wow! If I was there I would probably have taken a bite of it… it seems like something I would do. I can’t believe it was so well preserved! 😮

The last 10 Weird Zone articles