Chamblee54

Fruitcake

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, History, Holidays, Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on December 27, 2016








Today is National Fruitcake Day PG sees a chance for some text to put between pictures. He would be nutty as a fruitcake to turn down this chance. This is a repost. Part two of this recycled holiday blog party is a tribute to The Fruitcake Lady.

Fruitcakes were buried with the dead in Ancient Egypt. It’s true. Ancient Egyptians used to fill the tombs of the dead with all the supplies that they would need to enjoy the afterlife, including food and water. Fruitcake was often put into the tomb of a deceased person because a fruitcake soaked in a natural preservative like alcohol or fruit juice would last a long time. It was thought that the preserved fruitcake would not spoil on the journey to the afterlife. Fruitcake was a staple food of other ancient Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and Mediterranean cultures as well

Candied fruits are used in fruitcake because using sugar was the only way to preserve the fruit long enough to get it back to Europe from the Middle East. When the Crusaders began carrying exotic fruits back to their European home the fresh fruit would spoil long before they were able to get it home. Ingenious traders began drying the fruits by candying them with sugar which made them an even more delicious treat and preserved them indefinitely. Once the candied fruits were sent to Europe and to other parts of the world they were baked into cakes so that they could be shared with family and friends on special occasions.

Fruitcakes will last for years without spoiling. It’s true. A fruitcake that is properly preserved with an alcohol soaked cheesecloth that is then wrapped in plastic wrap or foil can be kept unrefrigerated for years without spoiling. In the past, before refrigerators came along, families would make fruitcake for holidays and special occasions months in advance of the actual event and then let the covered fruitcakes sit wrapped in an alcohol soaked cloth until the event happened. As long as the cloth was remoistened with alcohol occasionally the cakes not only didn’t spoil, they actually tasted richer and sweeter because they had been soaking in brandy and rum for a couple of months.

To millions of fruitcake consumers, the town of Claxton GA is very special. This south Georgia town, just down the road from Reidsville, is home to Claxton Fruit Cake . The story of the Claxton Fruit Cake company is a sweet one. Savino Tos founded the Claxton Bakery in 1910. He hired Albert Parker in 1927, and sold him the business in 1945. Mr. Parker decided to sell Fruit Cake to America.

No story about fruitcake is complete without mentioning the “Fruitcake Lady”. Marie Rudisill , an aunt of Truman Capote, wrote a book of fruitcake recipes. She became a tv celebrity, before going to the bakery in the sky November 3, 2006.

The urban dictionary has nine listings for fruit cake. The ones for homosexuals and crazy people are there. UD gets creative with this selection: “The act of releasing green chunky diarrhea onto your partners face then, ejaculating on it, then punching him/her in the nose causing the colors to mix together to form a fruit cake like color.”

If you tire of jokes about fruitcake, you can go to The society for the protection and preservation of fruitcake . (If you click on the “new URL”, you will be invited to join in the green card lottery.) There used to be a link on the society page that enables you to buy Fruitcake Mints. “Keep your breath fruitcake fresh with these festive mints!”

Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.


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There was a political comment on facebook. The last sentence was “No wonder Georgia turned Republican after the Clintons sold poor people out.” The person making this comment was born in 1980, the same year Georgia elected a Republican to the US Senate. This person also was born and raised in Florida. PG thought of a smart comeback. This is a repost.

There was a famous video by the Fruitcake Lady. In the first part, a young lady asks who to vote for in an upcoming election. FL makes a face, and said “you’re gonna ask someone who lives in FLORIDA how to vote?” This is along the lines of a Floridian transplant explaining the Republicanization of Georgia. Unfortunately, the video with the Fruitcake Lady had been taken down for copyright infringement. The spell check suggestions for Republicanization: Recapitalization, Cannibalization.

PG wasn’t really doing anything, and was in the mood for a google wild goose chase. This led to an amazing article, Sweet as Sugar, Rude as Hell, My Lost Interview with Truman Capote’s Aunt. A writer for the fishwrapper went to a mobile home in Hudson, FL. He talked to Marie Rudisill, who was best known as Truman Capote’s “Aunt Tiny.” The meeting took place in 1997, and was not what the writer expected. A family friendly version of the meeting was published The journalist received a slice of fruitcake in the mail. Everyone concerned went on with their lives.

Marie Rudisill died November 3, 2006, after becoming famous as the Fruitcake Lady. As for the journalist: “When I left The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2009, I stashed 27 years of old newspapers, tapes and ephemera in my garage. Nothing is more depressing to me than those boxes of old newspapers. It’s my own private morgue — replete with the sickening scent of dust and roach pills…. When I finally mustered the courage to dig around, I found the Lewis interviews — as well as a cache of other recordings. Three of the tapes had Rudisill’s name scribbled on them. I was not quite ready to listen, though. I put them in a box and labeled it.”

In 1924, Truman Streckfus Persons was born in New Orleans LA. His mother, Lillie Mae (Aunt Tiny’s older sister) left her husband behind, and took the boy to Monroeville AL. They lived in a wild household. A neighbor was Harper Lee, who wrote “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Miss Lee was a close friend, as was Sook. This is Truman’s cousin, the fruitcake chef herone of “A Christmas Memory.”

After a while, Lillie Mae married Joe Capote, who adopted the boy. They moved to New York, where Aunt Tiny joined them. Truman was sent to military school. Everyone, except Lillie Mae, thought this was a terrible idea. The effort to butch up young Truman did not work.

Aunt Tiny wrote a book, Truman Capote: The Story of His Bizarre and Exotic Boyhood by an Aunt Who Helped Raise Him. It was published in 1983, a year before Truman died. “The book scandalized Monroeville — and Capote. He told The Washington Post: “If there are 20 words of truth in it, I will go up on a cross to save humanity.” Said Harper Lee: “I have never seen so many misstatements of fact per sentence as in that book.”

There is one story that sticks out…. “Rudisill breaks down just once during our interview. It’s when she recalls “the first time Truman ever had a sexual encounter with a priest.” She was living in Greenwich Village, having followed Lillie Mae and Truman to New York. “He was sitting on my doorstep when I came home from work, and he had blood all in his pants, and then he told me about this priest. And nobody, I don’t think anybody in the world ever knew that but me.”

There is more to the story. If you have the time, you might enjoy reading the full article. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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