What is it about a simple confection made of nuts, cherries, dates, pineapple, liquor, flour and sugar that causes such controversy? The fruitcake love-it-or-hate-it battle has raged for some time, but according to our Sundial poll, the lovers are stomping the haters and trying to win fruitcake some respect.
Of the 56 calls we received when our question ran last Wednesday, 46 liked (perhaps I should say loved) fruitcake, four disliked fruitcake (hate might be a better word) and four people didn't leave a comment.
To put it simply, most fruitcake lovers, including caller George Platt, think this humble holiday dessert gets a bum rap.
"All the people who don't like fruitcakes are fruitcakes themselves. It's mainly these comics who don't have any jokes prepared and they have to joke about something especially around this sea
son. Most of the fruitcakes are well-made," Mr. Platt said. "They're delicious but people don't give themselves a chance to even taste them because jokes are being made about it."
Carmela Thamer agrees. "I think they're delicious and nutritious and I think that it makes the holiday season special when they appear on the dessert table," said Mrs. Thamer.
Elizabeth Pantzer also mentioned that fruitcake is healthier than many other holiday desserts. "It has fewer calories than any other cake that there is," she said.
Many of the fruitcake fans who called wanted to share the secret to their favorite recipes. "I've made the same recipe for fruitcake for 30 years," said Diane Jones.
"I think the secret is . . . I soak cherries, pineapples, pecans and white raisins in Pikesville rye whiskey and [after the fruitcake is baked], I wet it down for three weeks with more Pikesville rye whiskey and everyone just loves my fruitcake. In fact, they have said for an instant highball you should use a slice of my fruitcake and a glass of water."
Other readers wanted to recommend their favorite store-bought fruitcakes. "I guess a lot of grocery store fruitcakes could be used for doorstops but if you've ever had one from the Collins Street bakery in Corsicana, Texas, you have to think differently," said Sue Davis. They're absolutely wonderful. Good fruitcake isn't a doorstop."
Judy Rhoades disagrees. Instead, she subscribes to what writer Calvin Trillin calls "The Theory." "There's only one fruitcake that circulates, it never gets eaten, it just gets passed from person to person," Ms. Rhoades commented.
Ariel Skeen puts it even more succinctly: "Yuck."
But, the people who hate fruitcake were greatly outnumbered. Ron Underwood echoed the responses of many: "I love fruitcakes. I enjoy making them, I enjoy giving them as Christmas presents and I enjoy receiving them. God bless the fruitcake."