Fruitcakes (i.e. Americans) and fruitcake (i.e. the cake)
Returning to the glibness. . .
Though Americans have a sweet tooth, here the fruitcake is unloved and pitied – the punch line to a mediocre gag. Blame for this can, perhaps, be laid at talk show host Johnny Carson whose annual line, “there is only one fruitcake in the world and people keep sending it to each other,” helped establish the fruitcake as something to mock rather than eat.
This was a lesson I first learned when I suggested to Mrs W. that our wedding cake could be a fruitcake. “We want people to eat it,” I was told.
Not that the American fruitcake’s reputation is entirely undeserved. The majority I’ve tried are made up of gelatinous pieces of bright red and even brighter green fruit set in a wall of desiccated cake. When this is the image that comes to peoples’ mind, their resistance to ever trying a piece of fruitcake again is understandable if frustrating when it means dismissing your own rich, moist and exceedingly boozy version.
Not that it stops me trying. Fruitcake, mince pies, I ply them all on friends; and, as it is the season of goodwill, they have to feign enthusiasm.