The people have spoken! The world is full of fruitcakes

The world of fruitcake lovers is a dangerous one for those without a spare.
The world of fruitcake lovers is a dangerous one for those without a spare.
Every once in a while a column strikes a nerve with readers. These readers then write me to express their displeasure; they are angry, hurt, offended, or breaking in new stationery. Whatever the reason, I appreciate this feedback regardless of the fact that, in many cases, the column they’re talking about wasn’t mine. So you can imagine my shock at getting unhappy letters from people who (a) read my column and (b) actually like fruitcake.

The letters came in response to the column I wrote about Fruitcake Disposal Anxiety Disorder, which was named in a New York Post special investigation as “The fastest-growing mental disorder in the entire world.”

“And we’re pretty sure about that,” the report concluded. “If not, then it’s right up there with ‘Fear of Clowns’ or something.”

After receiving these letters, I looked back over the column and realized that, yes — it was a little insensitive to fruitcake lovers out there. So, in response, I spent time looking into what makes a good fruitcake, compared with the kind of fruitcake the rest of us receive each holiday season. After comparing dozens of recipes and then baking four different fruitcakes of my own, I realized something important — which is that, by using a six-inch bundt pan, my daughter now has a full set of tires for her Barbie Jeep.

Again, I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as a good fruitcake.

I’m just saying that if there’s an R-14, all-weather radial bundt pan out there, I’d like to know about it.

I should point out that over 21 million fruitcakes were sold in the U.S. last year, and not one of them was allowed on any flight in or out of Canada. That’s because fruitcakes have been added to the list of banned carry-on items on all Canadian flights. This is due to the X-ray machine’s inability to penetrate fruitcake, therefore making it impossible for screeners — or even Superman — to verify if they’re safe.

“Well, look at that! A fruitcake from Lex Luthor. How thoughtful!”
“Be careful, Superman.”
“Relax, Lois. What danger could there be in…WAIT! THOSE AREN’T CANDIED GUAVAS!”

Admittedly, there is a huge difference between what passes as fruitcake here in the U.S., and what the English refer to as “plum” cake. While the English version is said to be extremely moist and flavorful due to its high rum content, American fruitcake is known — like many U.S. food products — for its durability. This is particularly true of commercial fruitcakes, which are primarily used for keeping decorative tins from getting bent during shipping.

Lesley Hatcher of Panama City, Fla., who wrote in promising to change my mind about fruitcake by shipping me a homemade sample next year, is obviously very passionate about fruitcake.

Frighteningly, she’s not alone. As a member of the Society for the Protection and Preservation of Fruitcake (, she is “one of thousands” who are “spreading the gospel about fruitcake.”

(Note: After looking long and hard, I’m happy to report there’s no reference in either Testament to The “Gospel According to Fruitcake.”)

According to Lesley, the fastest way to get someone to stop making jokes about fruitcake is to give them a piece. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to change their mind or keep them from speaking, but whatever the case, I promise to keep an open mind until next year.

Who knows?

I may end up eating my words.

Then again, I may end up with a spare for my daughter’s Jeep.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR. 97439)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

31 thoughts on “The people have spoken! The world is full of fruitcakes”

  1. I knew there was a reason I chose to make Brownies, and not Fruitcake this year as Christmas time thankyous. For my son’s Sports Coach, Music teachers, School Tutors, friends’ parents who have invited him to play dates, chance met acquaintances, people he feels suddenly warm hearted towards. All that fruit cake would not have escaped the notice of the authorities!

  2. My mom used to make a great fruitcake that only had dried cherries in it. It was absolutely to die for, but then again, she was born and raised in the U.K., so maybe you have to have a cultural connection of some sort? Those screen defying, dark, dense fruitcakes are, as you say, built for durability! Apocalypse, anyone?

  3. Thats why I love your posts, never afraid to court conroversy. And now, as a follower from the UK, I’m fighting the urge to send you a recipe. A RECIPE! Ah, the power of the written word.

      1. If you send the recipe, I’ll make it! I actually did have a nice couple drop off some fruitcake. They moved here from England and swear it will change my life. I’m not sure how to take that…

      2. How weird is this: Goodreads send me a quote of the day. On 14th it was:
        “I want the following word: splendor, splendor is fruit in all its succulence, fruit without sadness. I want vast distances. My savage intuition of myself. ”

        Clarice Lispector

        She needs cake – big time dontchathink? The BBC site is my “go to” place for culinary doings.

        Let me know how it goes!

  4. I love fruitcake. It makes a great spackle for holes in the walls. I’m thinking of using it to make a colorful brick-like wall around my vegetable garden. I’m wondering if it could take the place of tile – with some grout, it could make a lovely floor.

  5. Oh I have always hated fruitcake. The alcohol, the dried fruit, the fluorescent sugared jellied fruits, everything I hate in a cake. Hate it at Christmas, hate it at weddings. Bleurgh.

  6. My theory is that it’s a naming problem. Fruit is just too general a word. It should be called plum cake or apricot cake (but not prune cake). See how well it worked for carrot cake? Carrot cake is a horrible idea. Who came up with idea of making dessert from vegetables? And yet everyone accepts it because it is named after a single vegetable. Who would want to eat a vegetable cake?
    Oh by the way, now that my rant is over, very funny post, Ned.

    1. LOL — That’s a great point about carrot cake! It’s like that line from “Jaws,” where the Mayor says to Matt Hooper: “You yell ‘barracuda,’ and everyone says, ‘Huh? What?’ But you yell ‘shark,’ and you have a panic on your hands on the Fourth of July.” [Insert dramatic melody]. Now switch “vegetable” for “barracuda” and “carrot cake” for “shark,” and you get the idea. I think you’re on to something 😉

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