While there is excellent fruitcake in the world--tender spice cake studded with high-quality dried fruit and preserved with premium alcohol--there is an awful lot of crappy fruitcake out there, sticky masses of sugar, FD&C #3 and corn syrup that defy the chemical bonding laws and are the basis in fact for all the stereotypes of fruitcake out there.
Should you be given one of these frightening amalgamations, you should not eat it: this kind of fruitcake is not food but food substitute, meant to sustain the body in a simulacrum of life until real food can be found, neutralized and eaten. Use the guide below to find alternative uses for this substance.
Remember, only you can prevent fruitcake re-gifting.
1. Bomb shelters. You know the old joke that after nuclear Armageddon, the only thing left will be cockroaches and fruitcakes? Well, why not make nuclear bunkers out of fruitcake and save humankind in the process? If worse comes to worst, you can always nibble the shelter from the inside to keep yourself alive through nuclear winter..
2. Dartboard. Fruitcake is dense and sticky enough that it would make a perfect dartboard. Use some white decorator's icing to paint the target on there, then work off the frustration of having to explain to Aunt Esther yet again why you aren't married yet. Bonus: you're throwing sharp things at fruitcake, which can be very cathartic.
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3. Yule log. Fruitcakes are traditionally preserved with liquor, often bourbon. Good fruitcake gets preserved with Maker's Mark or Woodford Reserve; bad fruitcake gets preserved with well-brand bourbon, which is undrinkable but still 80 proof. Things that are 80 proof will burn, albeit slowly, so open the flue, throw the fruitcake into your fireplace and set the oblong offender alight. Beats the flickering fire on Channel 9 any day, and you can choose your own soundtrack rather than the insipid carols they play on KCAL.
4. Sculpture medium. Michelangelo used marble; Bartholdi used copper; Fasching uses bronze; fruitcake seems made for the job of immortalizing the zeitgeist of the early 21st century. And while copper and bronze will be coated in verdigris after 100 years and marble will be worn down by the elements, a statue made from fruitcake will endure forever.
5. Poker chips. When the dinner is over and the family sits down around the card table for the annual smackdown, in which Uncle Rudy attempts to clean out the entire family yet again at Texas Hold 'Em, use thin slices of fruitcake in place of the usual poker chips. You can switch up the game and make it more fun by using the fruitcake chips as anti-money; if you win a hand, you get to get rid of some of your fruitcake, and whoever loses has to eat the ante.