Writer’s Workshop: Nuttier Than A…


JASON BORSETH/Missourian 515-991-1744
Monks at Assumption Abbey Monastery in Ava, Missouri Feb. 17, 2006.

Fruitcake is the joke of the Christmas season. For example, A. Lee Martinez, in his book Gil’s All-Fright Diner, said “Reality is like a fruitcake; pretty enough to look at but with all sorts of nasty things lurking just beneath the surface.” And Johnny Carson said, “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” Just DuckDuckGo “fruitcake jokes,” and you’ll get plenty.

Actually, it’s not that bad, depending on where you get it from. My favorite is from the Trappist monks at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia, about thirty miles from me. The monastery itself is a beautiful place and it’s home to men who have dedicated their lives to God. Many of them are old and infirm, and the sale of bakery items helps pay for their medical care. I spent a week on retreat there almost thirty years ago, and it was a beautiful experience. I’m very fond of those guys. Every abbey has ther own recipe, it seems; the picture shows an example of the fruitcake made by the monks of Assumption Abbey in Missouri.

There was a place across the street from my grammar school that sold a “Jule Kake,” which was essentially a fruitcake. At least, that’s what they told me. The place was never open when I tried to drop by. I never saw anyone in there, either. Very strange. Makes you wonder what they were really selling.

Mary makes a good fresh fruit cake and adds cranberries, apples and pears. I don’t have the recipe, unfortunately, but trust me, it’s good.

Anyway, the title refers to the phrase “nuttier than a fruitcake.” When you say that someone is nuttier than a fruitcake, you’re saying he’s koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs, just like Sonny in the commercials.

General Mills has Cocoa Puffs, Trix and Kix. It’s all the same cereal, but Trix is fruit-flavored, Cocoa Puffs is chocolate-flavored, and Kix has no flavor added. Doesn’t taste especially pleasant, either. But that’s just me.

15 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Nuttier Than A…

  1. I make fruitcake. So, I know there is more than just one. I don’t believe mine is the one passed around, either. Just sayin’. I really do not know how others are judged, but I have been told mine are very good. I like mine. I have even converted people who said they “hate fruitcake”. Of course, I took advice from nuns, when I developed my recipe. They have connections. Hugs.

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  2. You can keep your fruitcake. I like Kix. The others are too sweet for me. I’ve heard that “nuttier than a fruitcake” expression and there are a few people I can think of for which it is entirely true. Happy Thursday!

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    1. Kix is a little too salty for me. The fun thing about Cocoa Puffs is that you have chocolate milk when you’re done (the same is true for Cocoa Krispies). And 30+ years in IT introduced me to many utter kooks…

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    1. The problem with fruitcake is that there are so many bad ones. The really good ones (i.e. the 90-proof ones, like the Trappist ones) are a taste sensation. The ones you get at the convenience store, not so much.

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    1. If it’s made right, it can be wonderful. Mary just made a fruitcake, actually more a pound cake with fresh cranberries, apples and pears in it, and is it ever tasty. The kind you can get in convenience stores this time of year, not so much…

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  3. I remember selling fruitcake for my high school this time of year. I don’t know where they came from, some company that sold them in bulk for fund raisers. When I was in Peru we ate “paneton” in December. That is an Italian sweet bread with .ca died fruit inside. My friends l thought it was wonderful. I thought it was just so-so.

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    1. There’s a whole industry dedicated to making stuff specifically for school sales, I think. I only had to sell stuff once, World’s Finest chocolate. My grandmother bought a case of 12 and told us to keep it. Mary went to school near the World’s Finest factory and a Nabisco factory, and said on a good day you could put on five pounds just from the smell. (Of course, she grew up near the Chicago Stockyards, whose smell was a little less pleasant…)

      I think it’s what you grew up with. Mary’s mother and grandmother made a Lithuanian dish called kugelis which is made with grated potatoes and bacon (grease and all). She loves it and makes it for herself, because I tried it once and thought it was so-so. My future mother-in-law figured I didn’t like it much and, God love her, was okay with it.

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  4. A year after my dad died, 1989, my mom asked me to go through my dad’s suits. I did and in one of the pockets was a Wedding favour…a piece of fruitcake, from 1978! It looked like it was just given to my dad that past weekend…it was not green or anything. I was almost tempted to try it…but I didn’t. I never made a fruitcake for some reason:). I am cuckoo for cocoa puffs though

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  5. I have never been a fan of fruitcake. I have tried it a few times and it is too sweet tasting for me. This was years ago and it probably wasn’t the best fruitcake on the block.

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    1. The less-expensive and lower-quality cakes seem to have too much candied fruit in them. The ones from The Swiss Colony or Figi’s are better, and the ones by the Trappists are maybe the best. Not that I eat a lot of it….

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  6. JOHN, I actually love nearly all fruitcakes, just to varying degrees. The only one I ever had and disliked was a store-bought one called (if I recall correctly) Claxton. But usually, I even love the ones found in grocery stores.

    My very favorite that I’ve ever had is in fact the one you’ve pictured here: Assumption Abbey in Ava, MO. I order one for myself every Christmas that I can afford it. This year I COULD afford it, and I just had a slice of one about 10 minutes ago.

    Happy New Year to ya!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    See… ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Come To Life

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