The Strange, Enduring History of Fruitcake

Wideonet, Shutterstock
Wideonet, Shutterstock / Wideonet, Shutterstock

Say what you will about fruitcake, but the holiday dessert has staying power. Early recipes for it first appeared in Ancient Rome, and today Germany, Italy, and Britain all have their own versions of the hearty dessert.

The cake has proven hard to get rid of—literally. In 2017, researchers in Antarctica found a fully intact fruitcake that had been left there by a failed expedition 107 years earlier. A family in Michigan is in possession of an even older fruitcake their ancestor baked in 1878.

These are just some of the stories covered in the latest installment of Mental Floss's Food History. In this episode, host Justin Dodd answers such burning questions as Why does fruitcake last so long? Why do we eat it during the holidays? and What the heck is figgy pudding, anyway?

To learn all about the nutty, enduring history of fruitcake, check out the video below. For more fascinating deep dives into the foods you love (or love to hate), subscribe to our YouTube channel.