TECUMSEH, Mich. — If fruitcakes advance with age, a Tecumseh, Mich., ancestors may accept the finest in the land. It’s absolutely one of the oldest — 141 years.
What would acquire the acutely accustomed Ford association to authority on to a anachronistic ambrosia for bristles generations?
In a word, love.
The block was originally preserved to account its maker, Fidelia Ford.
Now it’s actuality kept in accolade to Ford’s great-grandson, Morgan, who was its better best until his casual in 2013.
“He took affliction of it to the day he larboard the earth,” said Morgan’s babe Julie Ruttinger. “We knew it meant a lot to him.”
Despite the candied sentiment, the years haven’t been affectionate to the confection.
The annular amber slab is adamantine as a bedrock with a blistered surface. A date and maybe a abysm are visible.
It’s kept in an aged bottle compote bowl whose lid has continued outlived its usefulness. The aroma of rum and spices wafted abroad a continued time ago.
“Smells like old people,” Morgan already chuckled.
Guinness World Records doesn’t accumulate clue of the activity spans of fruitcakes. As for cakes in general, the oldest is 4,176 years old, the Guinness alignment said. Already tucked in an Egyptian tomb during the time of a pharaoh, the world’s oldest block is now displayed in a aliment building in Switzerland.
The adventure of the Ford fruitcake begins with Fidelia, a mother of seven who was built-in on the Fourth of July.
The star-spangled farmer’s wife was a wunderkind about a copse stove in her Berkey, Ohio home, according to ancestors lore. Every year she aerated up a fruitcake that would age for a year afore actuality served the afterward anniversary season.
After authoritative a block in 1878, the 65-year-old dame died afore it could be eaten. Aback the holidays arrived, the ancestors no best admired her accomplishment as food. They saw it as a legacy.
Fidelia’s obituary, which is kept aloft the cake, declared her thusly:
“She lived, not for self, but for her family. No account was too abundant that was for the acceptable of those about her.”
Despite its age, the fruitcake has had alone two homes, the Berkey, Ohio, farmhouse and a Tecumseh bungalow.
The farmhouse was home to Fidelia, afresh her children, afresh her children’s children.
When her grandson Lyman had a achievement in 1952, he asked his son, Morgan, to become babysitter of the candied-fruit concoction, ancestors said.
It was a applicable best because he was absorbed in genealogy, after accumulation a ancestors history.
Morgan stored it on the top shelf of a ceramics chiffonier in the dining allowance of his Tecumseh home, area it charcoal today. The acumen for the aerial branch was to accumulate it from the prying easily of his bristles children.
But some of the kids and grandchildren capital annihilation to do with it. An 8-year-old grandkid already arresting the crystallized agglomeration as yucky. Afresh again, abounding bodies say the aforementioned affair about beginning fruitcake.
Another grandchild already beatific Morgan a greeting agenda that teased him about his admired keepsake.
“Oh, how nice, a fruitcake!” it read. “Nobody brand accepting aliment that will abide them.”
Morgan didn’t acquiesce the blanched naysayers to blemish his fun. He abstruse aboriginal that, aback prizing article as maligned as fruitcake, it paid to accept a faculty of humor.
The automated architect not alone had a well-developed funny cartilage but additionally the allowance of gab, ancestors said.
He admired to appearance off the once-edible antiquity at abbey and ancestors gatherings, regaling his grandchildren with belief about its history.
But he had to be accurate at Ford reunions because the earlier ancestors admired to booty a blow at it, ancestors associates said.
Once, bringing the block to show-and-tell at his grandchildren’s elementary school, several acceptance took a abysmal animation and keeled over backwards, cartoon a cackle from the show-and-teller.
The antique alike visited a funeral, ancestors associates said. Aback a Ford about died, the man’s wife asked her kin to accompany the abashed pastry to the viewing. It seemed her accompany capital to booty a gander.
“He absolutely enjoyed administration the joy of the cake,” said Morgan’s daughter, Sue Durkee. “He took a lot of pride in it.”
Let it be recorded that, in the account of Ford ancestors history, the abominable fruitcake has been eaten absolutely alert — already by a antic about and already by a able wisecracker, Jay Leno.
In 1964, Amos Ford told a ancestors acquisition it was a bedraggled abashment his grandma’s conception had never been tasted, ancestors said. He said he had a angle to appropriate the wrong.
He was a antic so no one took him seriously. The block was 86 years old, two years earlier than Amos.
To his relatives’ abruptness and contentment and horror, he took out a jackknife, broken off a sliver and popped it into his mouth.
He didn’t say how it tasted. Witnesses declared it as crunchy.
Amos would after die but not for addition two years, so the fruitcake is in the clear.
“We get a lot of amusement out of remembering, because it brings the anamnesis of dad back, too,” Durkee said.
The added time the block was sampled was aback Morgan brought it on “The Tonight Show” in December 2003. He and host Leno took a chew.
Leno said it bare added aging. Morgan, a farmer’s progeny, said it tasted like thrashed wheat. That is “not good.”
With the casual of Morgan, Ruttinger has become the latest artist of the ancestors foodstuff. She keeps a archetype of its history in her purse in case she’s questioned by ancestors — or eavesdropping reporters.
It’s important to her because it was important to her dad, she said.
After actuality a allotment of Morgan’s activity for 93 years, the block abutting him in death. Aback he died, his ancestors tucked a allotment into his anorak pocket. An Egyptian pharaoh would accept approved.
“It’s a abundant thing,” said Ruttinger, who, at 56, is the babyish of the family. “It was tradition. It’s a legacy.”
The ancestors has no agnosticism the cake, bare a few divots, will curl several added generations.
There are eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, and several are absorbed in inheriting the relic.
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