A baby boomer’s burden: fruitcake

Okay boomers, Thanksgiving is behind us and it’s time to send gifts. For Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever. And BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs says that if you think fruitcake is the worst thing you could possibly send, it’s not. It’s the best. The only problem is, not everyone knows that.

People have made fun of me all my life.

Even as a kid.

Not because I wasn’t any good at sports. I held my own in baseball, biking, running, and skiing. And not because I made an absolute fool of myself whenever I stood up in class. A fool, maybe, but not absolute. And, although I probably wasn’t the sartorially spiffiest student at school, I did know where to apply the deodorant.

No, people have made fun of me all my life for one reason and one only: I love fruitcake.

There, I’ve said it.

I might as well have played the accordion. Remember how other kids would make fun of the kid in school who played the accordion? I always hated that because… well… I played the accordion too.

Double loser.

Greg’s accordion.

And although I don’t pull the accordion out of its case much any more, I do still make fruitcake a paramount part of the holidays. So I still am the eternal target of society’s taunts.

But so what?! You think I care what other people say? Let them eat cake. You know what kind of cake I mean!

True, most citizens compare fruitcake to concrete. Some even call it the worst of all holiday gifts. The best doorstop maybe, but the worst gift. One writer called fruitcake a pastry with “violently colored red and green ‘fruit’ and suspect nuts that top the thick dough,” with “pseudo-fruit scattered within, waiting like landmines.”

Yup. That’s what we’re talking about. Fruitcake.

Greg lusting over a fruitcake at Costco.

Someone used to send a fresh fruitcake to my dad around this time every year while I was growing up. Since then, my love affair with fruitcake has never faded.

Or maybe Dad’s friend wasn’t sending us a fresh fruitcake after all. Maybe it was the same fruitcake. Johnny Carson contended on The Tonight Show, “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other, year after year.”

Could be.

When my older brother got married, his and his bride’s gift to every member of the wedding party was a little cardboard box embossed with their names and the date of the wedding and when you opened the box, sitting inside was a small cube of fruitcake. Suitable for freezing, meant to be opened and eaten ten years down the road.

Sorry to say, the fruitcake lasted longer than the marriage.

Anyway, if you’re a fruitcake cynic— perhaps a “Never-Fruitcaker” in today’s lingo— you haven’t thought it through. Has it occurred to you, for example, that in this fast-paced society saturated with swooshes and dings and a nonstop stream of audible announcements for meaningless messages, fruitcake is silent. It just sits there gleaming, a soundless sweet reminder that while most of the world gets restyled at the speed of sound, fruitcake doesn’t change. Not day to day, not year to year. Fruitcake has no bells and whistles, no batteries, no moving parts. You should praise fruitcake, not bury it.

But if you choose to keep making fun of fruitcake and those of us who love it, that’s okay too. We think it’s the best gift, not the worst. We are used to being the butts of your jokes. We have a thick hide. Kinda like fruitcake.

6 Comments

  1. I just want to join in and say I love fruitcake too! I especially liked the ones that were homemade while I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s. I may have to venture out in the Black Friday shopping madness this weekend and buy a fruitcake.

  2. I have had my share of fruit cakes and must admit the homemade ones are actually really delicious. Perhaps it is time to stand up for fruitcakes! Bit first pass that really good egg nog. Nice piece, for a Black Friday. Thanks for allowing me to start the day with a smile.

  3. I confess…another lover of fruitcake! My father owned his own business and it was standard practice to exchange fruitcakes during the holidays when I was growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s. I recall some must have had a large dose of liquor pour over them as well. Eggnog with fruitcake anyone? Ending my day with a smile. Thanks!

  4. Greg,

    This brought back great memories. Like Michael, Eric, and Sherrill, the homemade fruitcakes were the best. My Aunt, who lived in Los Angeles CA, would make one every year and send it to my Mom, who lived in Houston, TX. It would always arrive the week after Thanksgiving. Of course, Mom would pour a little brandy over it and let it soak in, and by Christmas morning, it was waiting there on the kitchen table along with a cup of strong coffee. I can’t stop smiling – thanks for the memories!

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