When did people start openly hating fruitcake?

It's no secret most Americans say "pass" when it comes to the holiday fruitcake, but when did it all start? Share this article

Fruitcake might just be one of the least-loved sweets in the country. It's the butt of all holiday jokes, the punch line of quirky seasonal movies and an object of ridicule from countless reputable food bloggers and journalists. Even The Huffington Post inserted its two cents about the dessert, suggesting how people can make it better by simply not making it at all. Sure, the cake isn't the most attractive after-dinner treat, nor the tastiest, but what ever happened to trigger such a widespread dislike for the fruitcake?

Blame it on the Romans 
According to a timeline posted on What's Cooking America, the ancient Romans are to blame for this dessert, as they're linked to the oldest reference of fruitcake. Back then, they combined pine nuts, raisins, pomegranate seeds and barley mash – the same stuff that's used when making beer – to make some of the first documented fruitcakes. 

From there, the cake has changed only slightly to take on the form that is typically sold in bakeries and through the mail today. The website explained that people ate it as more of a survival strategy than anything else. As legend and WCA had it, crusaders would load up on fruitcake so they'd stay full during long trips. However, it doesn't mean they liked it. Just about anyone who's ever scarfed down an entire plate of fruitcake can testify to the uncomfortable full feeling that ensues. 

Americans found a better use for the fruitcake – no fork necessary.

Fruitcakes are typically heavy and dense because they're pumped full of alcohols, like sherry or brandy, as well as dried fruit and nuts. Oh, and don't forget the breading. It's one giant ball of carbs and sugars. What's a person to do other than re-gift? There is one other good use for them, and it all started in 1996. 

The first fruitcake toss
That's when the good people of Colorado assembled in Manitou Springs to hold the first-ever Great Fruitcake Toss. According to the Denver Post, the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce director Michele Carvell was the mastermind behind the event, as he was one of the first in his group to step up to the plate and outwardly show his disdain for the fruitcake.

"Every year people have gathered to launch, lob or toss the tough cakes onto the ground."

Every year people have gathered to launch, lob or toss the tough cakes onto the ground. As The Gazette explained, it's a ceremonious day that's complete with cannons and fruitcake guns. In the past, attendees have had the option to rent a fruitcake, had they not brought one from home. 

It wasn't until the past few years that the event has been moved to smaller venues, due to a lack of participation. However, that doesn't mean that America has had a sudden change of heart for the often tasteless cake.

Don't miss this national day
If anything, Americans have embraced publicly destroying fruitcakes. As explained on the Punch Bowl website, a national day has been created to honor the tossing of the undesirable dessert, inspired by the Colorado-based event. That means that no matter where you live, if you received a fruitcake for the holidays, you have full range to throw it to the ground. You can even step on it if you want. 

That's good news for any and all who continue to receive fruitcakes – the staple lackluster treat of the season. Next time you unwrap the prepackaged stiff-as-a-board cake, think of it as a chance to participate in this passive aggressive makeshift holiday that only comes around once a year. It's just one more thing to look forward to this holiday season. 


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