Kicker: Petrified fruitcake


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Each Christmas, Julie Ruttinger proudly displays a family heirloom that’s passed down through her family more than a century. 

Her great great grandmother Fidelia Ford made it in 1878. And her family has carefully preserved it in her honor ever since. 

You might guess this treasure is a piece of jewelry or maybe a Christmas ornament. But no. This heirloom is a fruitcake. A 141-year-old fruitcake. 

You see, Ford started a tradition to bake a fruitcake and let it age for a year before serving it at Christmastime. But she died before serving her final fruitcake. And her husband just couldn’t bring himself to eat it.

Great great granddaughter Ruttinger told The Detroit News:

RUTTINGER: And they just never cut it. And why they didn’t throw it away? Don’t know. They just hung onto it. And after—I don’t know how many years—that they never cut it, they decided not to cut it and just to keep it.

Since then, the now rock-hard fruitcake has passed through five generations. 

For you trivia buffs: the oldest cake in the world is more than 4,000 years old, found in the tomb of an Egyptian prince.

It’s The World and Everything in It.


(David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP) In this Dec. 9, 2019, photo a 141-year-old fruitcake, baked by Fidelia Ford, in 1878, sits in the home of Dorothy Ford, in Tecumseh, Mich. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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