Fruitcake is usually served during the Christmas holiday season. The earliest fruitcake recipe was from ancient Rome and included pine nuts, raisins, pomegranate seeds and was mixed into a barley mash. In later times, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added. Starting in the 16th century, sugar from the American Colonies allowed for the creation of candied fruits which made the cakes more affordable and popular.
Typical American fruitcakes are rich in fruit and nuts. Mail order fruitcakes in America began in 1913. Southern companies had inexpensive access to large quantities of nuts for which the expression “nutty as a fruitcake” was derived in 1935. Most American fruitcake is mass produced. Traditional recipes are generally saturated with liqueurs or brandy and covered in powdered sugar, which prevents mold.
When a fruitcake contains a good amount of alcohol, it can remain edible for many years. A 106-year-old cake was discovered in 2017 by The Antarctic Heritage Trust and was in excellent condition and “almost” edible.
In the United States, the fruitcake has become a ridiculed dessert. Since 1995, Manitou Springs, Colorado has hosted the Great Fruitcake Toss. This event takes place the first Saturday of January. The all-time record for the toss was won by a group of Boeing engineers. The fruitcake went 1,420 feet. The engineers built a mock artillery piece fueled by compressed air pumped by an exercise bike. De Hart Plumbing Heating and Cooling, serving Manhattan Kansas, Junction City Kansas, Wamego Kansas and some surrounding areas.