Of all the things I dread getting each year, I would have to say that fruitcake is probably number one on the list. Think about it.
Fruitcake’s existence is something of an anomaly. What I have gathered, is that it was invented in Rome or one of its provinces. It was later modified by the Germans amongst others (I think they added sugar). This for sure has helped to improve its longevity. It also has limited transformative capabilities as well as properties that are unique only to fruitcake.
To name a few:
Density seems greater than lead; possibly due to perceived weight (could it somehow be used as shielding for reactors or spacecraft?).
Retains form even when heated in an oven.
Color does not fade from long exposure to bright sunlight.
If kept at room temperature, away from sunlight, does not lose moisture.
Though it is dense and retains its shape well, it is too brittle to construct buildings. It often falls apart when extracted from the confines of its wrapping.
Last but not least, fruitcake, though it hasn’t been around since the beginning of time, if baked today (is that how it’s made?), is certain to last beyond time’s end. That is, if it isn’t consumed. I am not sure, but I think there are studies that suggest fruitcake may have a longer half-life than U-238. That’s a really long time. About four and a half billion years.
Now, about those transformative properties. Fruitcake comes wrapped in cellophane and supported on the bottom by a thin sheet of card stock, usually imprinted with a red design. This red color is important (as we shall later see). The cellophane, before it is wrapped and folded around the fruitcake, is thin, flexible and clear. Shortly after wrapping, seconds maybe, it becomes slightly yellowed and somehow thickens and loses flexibility. The cellophane also becomes harder to remove as it now resists cutting and tears in the most vexing way when trying to unwrap the cake. This usually damages the cake so that it suddenly falls apart, creating a mess over the entire table or counter.
The card stock is also transformed. The fruitcake will change the card stock by aging it several decades in perhaps an hour. That is why the card stock is red. This helps to hide the yellowing that occurs through this process. Also, the card stock tears in weird ways from the fruitcake. This is not well understood. Perhaps by studying this, we may finally resolve the uncertainty principle. Or maybe not.
One other thing, perhaps understood as little as the transformative properties of fruitcake, is the recipe. There are perhaps hundred or even thousands recipes out there for making it. Commercial and personal. Yet they all turn out the same. How is that even possible ? It may be possible that there are many roads to the same conclusion. With all these properties, one can assume that the fruitcake is most likely some kind of special state of matter. Certainly it isn’t normal. Perhaps the God particle that scientists are always searching for resides within each and every fruitcake in the universe.
But, what is nice this Christmas is that I did not receive a fruitcake, as has happened in the past. So I do not have to re-gift it next year.