Are These the Oldest Christmas Cakes in the U.S.?

Dec 22, 2011 12:21pm
ht 100 yr old cake tk 111222 wblog Are These the Oldest Christmas Cakes in the U.S.?

A 100-year-old cake that is in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is shown. (Photo credit: Pierre Girard)

Two cakes whose combined ages add up to 170 years give a whole new meaning to the term ‘holiday leftovers.’

The first cake, in Minnesota, just celebrated its 100th birthday with a bash attended by about 120 people.

“Usually, you throw a birthday party and bring a cake, but this party was for the cake,” Pierre Girard, the cake’s owner, told ABCNews.com with a laugh.

Girard said the cake was a gag gift in 1994 from a friend who was a retired antique dealer. An attorney handling an estate sale for an elderly woman who had passed away gave it to the dealer.

“They wrapped it up and gave it to me and I brought it home from that dinner and put it on my dining room table,” Girard said. “When I put Christmas things away, I just couldn’t put it away.”

When Girard took a closer look at the cake’s box, he saw that it said, “Xmas cake baked in Dec. 1911″ from the Rose Garden Florist in Detroit. On the bottom of the box, it said, “Xmas cake baked in year 1911 by my mother’s brother Alex, died Dec. 27. Was operated on Xmas Day.”

Girard did some research and believes that the cake was an English-inspired Victorian cake.

“They used to have a Christmas cake that they would eat and then let it dry out and put it away until the following year when they would soak it in brandy or rum and rebuild the cake adding back on to the layers,” he said.

Girard believes that after the death in the family that used to re-build the cake yearly, they chose to keep it and preserve it. He thinks soaking it in alcohol is what preserved the cake and its smell.

“You can smell a spice smell to it. It doesn’t smell bad,” Girard said. “It’s hard as a rock, with a cinnamon clove type smell.”

The second cake won’t be celebrating its centennial for another 30 years, but is being auctioned off for its 70th birthday.

 

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A 70-year-old fruitcake from Cincinnati, Ohio, up for auction, is shown. (Photo credit: Larry Chaney)

The 1941 fruitcake is from a Kroger’s grocery story in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was discovered tucked away in the basement of a house during a home estate auction, run by the Elite Estate Group.

“The cake is still in its original tin, never been opened and has the original label on the box,” Larry Chaney, owner of the auction company, told ABCNews.com.

The cake came with a note dated May 20, 1971 that read:

“This fruitcake is one of six purchased by the undersigned during Christmas Week of 1941. During its 30 years of life the cake has traveled thousands of miles and has been subjected to all types of climatic conditions and shocks. We are moving again and wish to return the cake to its makers—The Kroger Company.”

It is being auctioned off by the Elite Estate Group and the money will go to a local charity that helps the needy. So far, the highest bid is $125 and the bidding ends at 8 p.m. on Dec. 22.

Chaney said he knows of a number of people who are sitting back and waiting to bid later today. He has received phone calls from interested buyers in Hollywood, Florida, North Carolina and South Dakota among other states.

A number of the callers have inquired about whether it would be possible to sample the cake, but samples are not being allowed before the sale.

“People tell us that they’d be willing to try it,” Chaney said. “It’s just a neat novelty.”

While the fruitcake will have a new home by Christmas Eve, Girard’s cake will be taking center stage as an annual Christmas decoration and he doesn’t know yet what its future holds.

“I’m 66 so I know I’m going to need to find it a permanent home at one point,” Girard said. “Since it’s been around 100 years, I’d hate to leave it for a family member and have it get thrown away, but I don’t know if the Smithsonian would be interested in it.”

 

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