Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nutty as a Fruitcake

By Martha Reed

Everyone should have a holiday tradition that kicks off the spirit of the season. For some, it’s choosing a Christmas tree or hanging a balsam wreath on the door or stringing twinkling lights in the trees. Maybe it’s hearing that one favorite Christmas song that always stirs up a warm memory. For me, it’s fruitcake.

Johnny Carson used to joke that there really was only one fruitcake in the world and it got passed from family to family. I’ve earned my share of teasing over them. But there’s something about those little pieces of candied fruit that is just so stickily delicious that I will put up with all the guff my family can hand out (and that’s a lot of guff) to get my share.

I think this all started back when we were kids and Mom served us Boston brown bread in the can (remember that, anyone?) with cream cheese sandwiches for a treat. The next level was discovering the rich pecan version put out by the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana when I lived in Texas. That chock full of nuts version is pure heaven. This year, my sister brought me the Bloomingdales version and I have to tip my top hat; those New Yorkers know how to do it right, too.

To keep the spirit of the season light, I’m sharing this video of the Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Someone certainly got creative – check out the trebuchet. But my vote is for the guy with the motorcycle helmet who is trying to field the flying fruitcakes with a bucket!


Gina said...

Nice video, Martha. I particularly liked the parachute. Do people eventually eat these fruit cakes, or do they just bring the same ones back year after year?

My ex-husband used to be part owner of a wholesale health food bakery that made a wonderfully chewy whole grain fruitcake, with dried fruits rather than the candied ones. It was wonderful.

Martha Reed said...

Hi, Gina - I have to suspect that most of the tossed fruitcakes are ruined - especially the one fired out of the bazooka. But I was amazed to see how creative people were in coming up with the mechanics!

Your fruitcake sounds delicious, too. Did you happen to keep one? Wikipedia mentions one family who still has an inherited fruitcake from 1886. Don't know if I'd eat that one...

Joyce said...

I'm one of those non-fruitcake people, but I do remember my mother serving the canned brown bread. Weird stuff.

Ramona said...

I'm not much of a fruitcake fan, but my sister-in-law makes fruitcake cookies that get rave reviews. Secret family recipe from Virginia.

Martha, have you read A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote? It's a fruitcake story.

Karen in Ohio said...

I love fruitcake, and so do several friends and family members. I have an old, old recipe, from the 70's, that makes a moist, dense fruitcake that is almost a dead-on copy of the one from the Collin Street Bakery.

Making some today, as a matter of fact. It's my best friend's husband's 60th birthday, and even though they said "no gifts", I know he--and she--will enjoy the fruitcake.

Karen in Ohio said...

We also made brown bread, in a soup can, in high school Home Ec class. And yes, I like that stuff, too. It always reminds me of ladies' lunches back in the day.

Patg said...

I've seen pumpkin chucking, but not fruitcake. Funny. I like my one piece of traditional fuitcake each year, but I could eat a loaf all by myself of the Hawaiian version: macadamian nut and pineapple.
Tradional Christmas, by the Julian calender, sweets are nut and poppyseed breads.