141-year-old fruitcake is a Michigan family’s heirloom

National

In this Dec. 9, 2019, photo Julie Ruttinger, of Tecumseh, Mich., holds a 141-year-old fruitcake, a family heirloom baked by her great-great-grandmother, Fidelia Ford, in 1878. Fidelia, pictured at left, died before the cake was served and the family, out of respect of her memory, decided not to eat it and has instead passed it down for generations. It resides in a glass case with the date of its creation affixed to the top. (David Guralnick/Detroit News via AP)

TECUMSEH, Mich. (AP) — Some families pass down jewelry, watches or even recipes. But a Michigan family has its own heirloom: a 141-year-old fruitcake.

“It’s a great thing,” said Julie Ruttinger, the great great granddaughter of Fidelia Ford, who baked the cake in 1878. “It was tradition. It’s a legacy.”

The cake was initially preserved to honor Ford. She established a tradition of baking the cake and letting it age for a year before serving it during holiday seasons. Ford died at age 65 before her 1878 cake could be eaten, and by the time the holidays arrived, the family considered her handiwork a legacy, not food.

Until his 2013 death, the cake was in the care of Ruttinger’s father, Morgan Ford, who was Fidelia Ford’s great-grandson. He had stored it in an antique glass dish on the top shelf of a china cabinet in his Tecumseh home — which is where it remains today.

“He took care of it to the day he left the earth,” Ruttinger said. “We knew it meant a lot to him.”

Guinness World Records doesn’t have an entry for the oldest fruitcake, but as for cakes in general, the Ford fruitcake is nowhere near the world’s oldest, The Detroit News reported. That honor goes to a 4,176-year-old cake that was found in an Egyptian tomb, according to the Guinness organization. It is on display in a food museum in Switzerland.

During the 93 years that Morgan Ford held on to his family’s fruitcake, he showed it off at church and family gatherings and shared stories about its history with younger relatives. He even showcased the cake on “The Tonight Show” in December 2003, taking a bite with the host and saying it tasted like thrashed wheat.

“He really enjoyed sharing the joy of the cake,” said another of his daughters, Sue Durkee. “He took a lot of pride in it.”

LATEST STORIES:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Videos

Coronavirus cases in Florida surge past 6,300

Thumbnail for the video titled "Coronavirus cases in Florida surge past 6,300"

Tampa Bay restaurants adjust to “survive” during coronavirus pandemic

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tampa Bay restaurants adjust to “survive” during coronavirus pandemic"

Coronavirus; More than 5,000 classes at USF transition to online

Thumbnail for the video titled "Coronavirus; More than 5,000 classes at USF transition to online"

Let's boogie! Local dance studio offers FREE virtual lessons during coronavirus

Thumbnail for the video titled "Let's boogie! Local dance studio offers FREE virtual lessons during coronavirus"

Tuesday Midday Weather Update

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tuesday Midday Weather Update"

Attorneys call arrest of Tampa megachurch pastor after packed Sunday services "unconstitutional"

Thumbnail for the video titled "Attorneys call arrest of Tampa megachurch pastor after packed Sunday services "unconstitutional""

St. Petersburg parks open, for now

Thumbnail for the video titled "St. Petersburg parks open, for now"

Tampa Bay area workers continue to be unable to file for unemployment benefits through state

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tampa Bay area workers continue to be unable to file for unemployment benefits through state"

Sarasota County reports cases of COVID-19 at senior care facilities

Thumbnail for the video titled "Sarasota County reports cases of COVID-19 at senior care facilities"

Why are Floridians waiting up to 11 days for COVID-19 test results?

Thumbnail for the video titled "Why are Floridians waiting up to 11 days for COVID-19 test results?"
More Local News

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss