100-year-old Antarctic fruitcake looks (almost) edible

Faith Castro
August 11, 2017

Since May previous year, the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust has been preserving artefacts found at Cape Adare.

Researchers said the brand of the fruitcake is Huntley & Palmers. It was discovered in an abandoned hut at Cape Adare which dates back to an Antarctic expedition in the late 19th century. They found it inside an iron tin and wrapped in paper. "The tin has suffered significantly in the harsh Antarctic elements, however the Trust says the cake within looks and smells "(almost) edible".

Scott and his party successfully made it to the South Pole on the Terra Nova expedition from 1910 to 1913, but all five died on the return journey to base camp. Apparently, they could have used the fruitcake they left behind at Cape Adare.

"Fruitcake was a popular item in English society at the time, and it remains popular today".

"It's an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favourite item on modern trips to the Ice", says Lizzie Meek, the artifacts programme manager at the Trust, in a statement.

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After discovering the cake, conservators performed procedures to restore it, including rust removal and taking measures to stabilize the paper wrapping and tin container.

"Deacidification of the tin label and some physical fix to the torn paper wrapper and tin label was also carried out", the Trust said.

But could the classic tea cake last 100 years?

"The fruit cake will go back to where it came from on a shelf in the hut and I guess the story is out there and visitors to the site will be able to see that tin", she said.

Though, according to employees of the Fund, the tin box in which lay the dessert was in pretty bad shape, the pie looked and smelled "almost like edible".

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