In spite of its dubious reputation, fruitcake has remained a symbol of the holiday season, even after centuries of derision.
Fruitcake is a dense cake filled with candied fruit bits that is often soaked in liqueur. While it is popular in Japan, where it’s sold year-round, fruitcake is considerably less favored in other areas of the world, a reputation that may trace its origins back several centuries.
Historians theorize that inexpensive sugar imported into Europe from tropical colonies led to the creation of fruitcake, which many believe was first introduced after people learned that fruit could be preserved much longer if it were soaked in a sugar solution.
That meant fruits usually unavailable during particular seasons could still be enjoyed in candied form. With so much candied fruit lying around, it made sense to use it up by mixing it into baked goods.
Although fruitcakes are not as widely available today as they once were, one can still find the rare ring-shaped sweet treat on store shelves come November or December.
Those who are inspired to bring a fruitcake to their next holiday gathering should know that it may never make it onto the dessert table. – MCC