love it or hate it. From its boggy texture to its rancid, candied “fruits,” there’s something to cringe about in every bite. Okay, maybe I’m being a little too hard on these booze-soaked bricks of disappointment (I say “bricks” because even the Trappist monks who make fruitcakes agree there’s a resemblance). In fact, my mother-in-law makes an incredible rum cake dotted with highly-potent preserved fruits and that’s doused in port wine for a month before serving. It’s basically a gel by the time I get to it and, trust me, I get to all of it.
But you know the fruitcake I’m talking about. The sticky, heavier-than-the-laws-of-physics-should-allow loaf or ring full of good intentions and bad execution. The kind that can survive longer on the planet than most people. The kind that are mass produced, wrapped in cellophane and shipped to unlucky recipients by their thoughtless employers and inconsiderate aunts who couldn’t bother to check an Amazon wish list or just load up a Starbucks gift card. The contents of those cakes remain a mystery to this day (what are those translucent globs of unnatural color?). But finally, here is a definitive look at every aspect inside of the holiday season’s most feared food item.