Fruitcake is a strangely retro seasonal dessert, and it’s also an old timey vaguely homophobic slur that isn’t always about being gay, just more about being crazy with the silent agreement that gayness is the cause, which is probably a good assessment of me anyway. I am not fond of fruitcake as a food, although I do kind of like it as an insult in the same way I like “oh mary!” or the Archie Bunker favorite “meathead”.

It is usually too hard and too chewy and Nyquil tasting, and one of the very few sweets I would systematically avoid, as I do most coffee flavored and liqueur based confections unless they contain prodigious amounts of chocolate, which is the food group to which I am wholly monogamous and if you know me, you know I will eat through what I don’t like to get to what I love, so devoted am I.

Fruitcake isn’t my love, but there is one version that I remember eating that I really liked, and it was a chocolate fruitcake, given in a big, splintery fire hazard of a basket to my grandmother in the late 70s from a dry sausage/cheese/maple syrup gifting company which had a log cabin branding motif. This ‘homespun’ company would later find great success in smoked hams and jerkied meats during the 3rd or 4th wave frenzy of the Atkins Diet, but their true talent was for carbs.

I really think I ate the thing in the mid 80s because the cake had been sealed into a can, rendering it edible for generations.  I must admit that I am sometimes overly excited about canned things, mostly because if ever I am in an enclosed underground space, any kind of basement or lower floor or bank vault or walk in safe, without windows or source of natural light, I briefly picture myself trapped there for years wherein I would have to rely on the canned goods secreted nearby. This is due to too much late night reading about the Fritzl case and also that later post-Desi Technicolor Lucille Ball show where she and that mean banker who seemed like Mr. Drysdale were trapped in the bank vault that had a spinning doorknob like a captian’s wheel and they had to eat raw pasta.

The cake portion of it was dense dutch chocolate with harmonies of cinnamon/anise underneath. It was packed with closely interconnected air bubbles, suggesting that the batter had been steamed or even boiled, or at the very least cooked at an extremely low heat like in an easy bake oven. Studded around the outer layer of the can shaped cake were the gelatinous ‘fruit’, of which fruit they were from is still unclear, these sticky, anonymously ‘tropical’ fruity chunks that would adhere themselves to molars like nothing else, pulling out expensive dental work when fillings were still silver and gold. Still, it was delicious in the way of things that never really go bad, like slurs of yore, creepy true crime, easy bake oven cookery, dark fantasies of captivity and good old Lucy B.

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  1. That was one of your best posts ever! Hilarious. It brought back memories of childhood, of having a tent in the backyard stocked with canned shoestring potatoes, and other canned goods. I guess that the neighborhood kids’ version of a fallout shelter. I remember there being fruitcake around every Christmas, but I don’t remember anyone eating it. My mother probably ate it, because, having lived during the Great Depression, she didn’t believe in letting any food go to waste. She would eat things no human should ever have to eat, like chicken necks. So would put out leftovers which we had to eat, even if it was only a couple of green peas, some macaroni, and a glob of jello. For me, there was something vaguely demented about those old Lucille Ball episodes. It is hard to pinpoint why. But I would love to see someone write a book entitled, Slurs of Yore. It is a book begging to be written.

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