Image: Antarctic Heritage Trust/Tina Tiller

Let me eat the 100-year-old fruitcake

A well-preserved fruitcake that sat in an Antarctic hut for over a century has gone on display at Canterbury Museum. Here, a fan of ancient foodstuffs pens an open letter to the controllers of the cake. 

Please, Antarctic Heritage Trust, I beseech thee: let me eat the 106-year-old fruitcake.

Now is the time for me to consume this object of absolute power, encased in its icy tomb for nearly 40,000 days, so I can absorb its clearly magical properties and begin my terrible reign.

The trust should be suitably ashamed of playing its ace too early by admitting via news outlets that it “looks and smells almost edible”, and I cannot let this fact go. Other scientific groups worldwide denied us the basic human right to drink The Juice From Inside That Mysterious Black Sarcophagus. I cannot sate my hunger with the delicious Thai sweet chilli taste of Lower Hutt’s famous Skychips: a pack of Mexicano corn chips that have been stuck on a load-bearing girder three storeys high, which I have been chronicling the exploits of for nearly a year.

Even the mysterious, dark forces imbued in the Game of Thrones Starbucks cup remain out of reach, but it would complete a smorgasbord of enchanted comestibles that would only increase my power and bring forth a dark reign: the inevitable conclusion of which would be my vanquishing (my preferred method of dying) after a fiery and cataclysmic struggle reaching the far ends of the earth.

My Nan, another being of supreme immortal power (she is 100 years old and lives on her own in a house with stairs) would bake fruitcakes months out from Christmas, in typical olde-timey style with suet. She was born on the armistice of World War One and was named Peace. Much like my cherished Nan, this cake too has survived world wars and the proliferation of domestic refrigeration.

Antarctica Heritage Trust, if you doubt my credentials, rest assured I do not consider myself iron-stomached, but I’m willing to put in the hard work. I would describe myself as “appreciably lactose intolerant” but I regularly megadose on pizza and ice cream to keep my gastrointestinal immunity up.

At my own dare, I once drank a beer (Emerson’s pale ale) that was stuck on our roof after a party. This ale was very pale after baking in the sun for two years and the bottom of the bottle was encrusted in a kind of yeast dirt. But naturally, the contents were satisfyingly thirst-quenching. A month-old corn chip that survived a few dozen toastings in the back of our flat toaster-oven proved delectable. My partner became violently ill after a bad curry last year, but I ate her leftovers the next day because I couldn’t bear to see good butter chicken go to waste.

Always a big fan of expired goods from Reduced to Clear and Footscray’s Cheaper Buy Miles, I fuelled an entire UK tour from the coveted Tesco reduced section and two-for-one pork pies. Please, Antarctic Heritage Trust, respect the intrepid explorers of yore: I’m clearly the person for the job.

The cake was found safely preserved in its tin (Photo: Antarctic Heritage Trust)

My only request is that it be served with good European butter, ideally a block of French Petit Normand – inexplicably cheaper and more delicious than the results of Aotearoa’s dairy obsession. Or failing that, in a tribute to Viking courage, a tub of Danish Lurpak Spreadable. What a stunning conclusion it will be, after 100 years of maturation to be finally consumed within a few minutes (I will eat the whole cake).

Please also note I am willing to travel to Antarctica to achieve this noble goal.

To these ends, my good friend and patron of exploration Shane Dudfield has started a petition on change.org to spread the word about this dignified and daring cause. Antarctica Heritage Trust, I look forward to having a post-feed vape, with a belly full of delicious vintage cake and a heart full of derring-do.

Thanks for your time.

(PS I’m serious, let me eat the cake)


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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