Richard Stride Commentary: The Great Fruitcake Experiment, Just in Time for the Holidays


I read about a discovery in Antarctica of a 100-year-old fruitcake, found in a hut on Cape Adare, and it was still good. 

It was wrapped in paper in the remains of a tin and was in “superb condition.” Superb condition. Hmm.  

What does that say about fruitcake?  

Well for one, it's apparently indestructible, and for two, Antarctic scavengers won’t eat it.  

On a Johnny Carson show in the 1980’s a joke was made about fruitcake.  

Johnny Carson said, “There is only one fruitcake in the world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

Does fruitcake deserve the bad reputation it gets?  

Maybe, or maybe not. 

So, being the curious person I am, I set out on a quest to find out if people really like it or not.  

In my exhaustive investigation to find out once and for all if fruitcake deserves its reputation,  I asked 10 random people if they have ever eaten fruitcake and if they liked it. I figured 10 people was a good enough sampling (actually I didn’t feel like asking more than 10, It’s not like I was getting paid to research whether people like fruitcake). 

My research suggests that people are undecided. Well, mostly. Three liked it, five hated it and two never tried it. I know hate is a strong word, but three out of the five said they hated it. The other two didn’t exactly use the word hate, but I presumed that’s what they meant even though they didn’t say so.

I was more interested in those who said they liked it than those who didn’t.  

So, with those who said they liked it, I asked several follow up questions (actually three).  

I could tell they really didn’t want to answer any more fruitcake questions, but they were kind enough to anyway. I could read on two of the three faces, they were probably thinking, “What is it with this guy and fruitcake?” 

I asked what they liked about it. Then, I followed up with, did you like it the first time you tasted it or is it an acquired taste? 

 In my final question, I asked how long they keep it around. (I figured, if fruitcake can last 100 years in Antarctica, those who liked it could probably have it in the fridge for a long time, maybe a year, close to the next Christmas.)  

Those who liked it said it’s an acquired taste.  

One person said, “me and my fruitcake-loving relatives are the only ones who eat it, so it lasts a long time.” 

It goes great with coffee apparently (according to the same person). I also discovered an interesting fact. Homemade fruitcakes are the best, because of the ingredients (bourbon).

My conclusion: Fruitcake is a real dichotomy apparently. Americans are very opinionated on the densely packed cake with candied fruit and nuts. Did you know fruitcakes can weigh up to 3 pounds? 

I just have never acquired a taste for it. “Maybe I’ll give it a try,” I thought. Now that I’m older my tastes may have changed.  After all, I do like cake. Who doesn’t?  But, after pondering whether to eat it or not, I decided nope, I can’t do it.  

I’ll admit I was a little scared of a cake that you must acquire a taste for and could last for 100 years after the tin it lay in rotted away. 

Maybe you like fruitcake or maybe you will be brave enough to try it and let me know how it went.  


Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at