Randy Weeks

Published on December 13th, 2022 | by Randy Weeks


The View From The Balcony: “In Praise of Fruitcake”

Christmas has its nativity scene, Judaism has its menorah, Kwanza has its Mishumaa Sabaa, Buddhism has Bodhi Day, and earth religions have the Winter Solstice. Such symbols and traditions of one’s faith represent a deep commitment to the ideals of joy, celebration, friendship, and love. These high holy days are cause for celebration no matter your belief system.

In most cases, the observance of these sacred traditions include feasting. What could be more exalting than hedonistic gluttony? Bring on the turkey, the duck, the goose, the stuffing, the sweet potatoes, breads, and…DESSERTS! We must have desserts! Chocolate cakes and pies, pumpkin pie, apple pie, fudge pie, lemon meringue pie, coconut pie, strawberry cake, cookies, fudge, and an assortment of other delicacies.

But there’s one holiday dessert that strikes fear in the hearts of many. It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of holiday cuisine. It just don’t get no respect. That dessert my friends is the long-suffering fruitcake.
According to Wikipedia, the earliest known fruitcake was made in Egypt during the time of the pharaohs. They were often put in the sarcophagus of a mummified monarch, so they could have something to eat in the hereafter. (It’s rumored that the food sent by G_d to the Jews wandering in the wilderness was not manna, rather it was fruitcake, which explains why so many of them died.)

Fruitcakes were often the primary ration given to soldiers, including during the Crusades. It lasts a long time, is nutritious, and if you lost your weapon you could hurl your fruitcake at an enemy and knock them out, if not kill them.

Wikipedia also states that in ancient Rome and across much of Europe, the use of butter in fruitcake was banned during a fast. Finally, in 1490, Pope Innocent VIII withdrew the ban in what was called the “Butter Letter” or “Butterbrief.” The primary reason was that the Pope somehow got butter in his briefs and liked the way it felt . He liked it very, very much. Which begs the question: “Was Pope Innocent VIII really all that innocent?” (Think of that the next time you eat butternut squash.)

Fruitcake eventually proliferated all across the Eastern hemisphere, then to the West. Of note is that First Americans, Smoked Lodge and Otter Woman, parents of Sacagawea, were offered fruitcake at Plymouth Rock. Smoked Lodge took one bite and spat it at the pilgrims’ feet, exclaiming, “Hikajawya tihs doo-doo,” which is Shoshone for “I ain’t about to eat this s**t!” Later the Shoshone found a valuable use for fruitcake by including copious amounts of peyote in the recipe and sending cakes to the invaders. This caused the pilgrims in the Roanoke Colony to wander into Chesapeake Bay and drown under the weight of the fruitcake in their bellies. However, they perished with smiles on their faces. Mystery solved.

In 1820 a small band of Eskimos began using fruitcake to build igloos. Historians and anthropologists recently discovered why. Crudely etched into a fossilized fruitcake, which is redundant, were these words: “This crap won’t melt.” Sadly, the entire tribe was wiped out in the 1899 earthquake that caused the igloos to collapse, crushing the unsuspecting clan.

Reportedly, George Washington was once given a fruitcake, thereby accounting for his wooden teeth.
It is also believed that fruitcake was used as weights to sink the body of Jimmy Hoffa in Lake Michigan.
Speaking of Michigan, in 2019 The Detroit News reported a 141-year-old fruitcake in Tecumseh, Michigan, that was still being passed around to all the family members. One of them was quoted as saying, “It smells like old people.”

In more recent times the fruitcake has been used as a door stop, paperweight, substitute shot-put, cannon balls, a term of derision, and various and sundry other things. There is but one conclusion to make from all this: fruitcake is here to stay!

So let us resolve to elevate the lowly fruitcake from its impoverished, shameful state, to its rightful nobility. Join me in singing a long-standing Christmas classic:

Grandma got run over by a fruitcake
Comin’ home from our house Christmas Eve.
You may think that fruitcake’s got no reason,
But as for me and Grandpa, we’re relieved!

Happy Holidays, all you fruitcakes!!!
…and that’s the view from The Balcony.

Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor. Growing up, Randy didn’t even like his own mother’s fruitcake. He may be reached at randallsweeks@gmail.com.

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About the Author

Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Shamanic Life Coach, an ordained minister, a singer-songwriter, and an actor, who lives in Oxford, Mississippi. He may be reached at randallsweeks@gmail.com.

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