Let’s be honest: nobody really likes fruitcake, and nobody ever really eats it, either. Heavy, flavorless and always too sweet, fruitcake is one of our century’s biggest holiday jokes.
So when Christmas is over, and you’ve taken the tinsel down, and thrown out the tree, what should you do with that old fruitcake that you’ve been using to prop open the door/to replace a missing limb/as a headrest?
National Fruitcake Toss Day has a “fruitful” answer (see what we did there?). The event, which is reported as having originated in Manitou Springs, Colorado, was created in order to help people get rid of unwanted fruitcake after Christmas.
History of National Fruitcake Toss Day
The earliest known fruitcake recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were then mixed with barley. In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added. Fruit cakes soon became popular all over Europe.
Recipes varied greatly from country to country, depending on what ingredients were available as well as church regulations. In the 16th century, sugar from the American Colonies, paired with the discovery that it could help preserve fruits, created an excess of candied fruit, which further contributed to fruitcakes’ affordability and popularity.
However, fruitcakes later became a bit of a joke due to their excessive sweetness and heaviness, as well as their lack of any real flavor. Nevertheless, giving fruitcakes during the holiday season has remained a tradition in many parts of the world.
In Colorado, the Manitou Springs community have hosted their own Great Fruitcake Toss tournament every year since 1995, though their event usually happens at the end of January. During the competition, fruitcakes are thrown, hurled, catapulted and cannoned into the air using a range of inventive devices. Those braving this event would be wise to remember to look up occasionally – a frozen fruitcake in the face is a formidable force when fired from an exercise-bike-powered cannon.
How to celebrate National Fruitcake Toss Day
The best way to celebrate this crazy holiday is simply to take part! You can celebrate National Fruitcake Toss Day anywhere, but if you happen to be near Manitou Springs, their Great Fruitcake Toss event occurs on the last—or sometimes second to last—Saturday of every January, and the festivities are organized in the following manner:
Participants are expected to bring their own fruitcakes which should contain candied fruits, nuts and of course, flour, and not any inedible substances. The fruitcakes are inspected by the “Fruitcake Toss Tech Inspectors” before they are allowed to be used for the competition to make sure they do not contain any substances hard enough to hurt a person that may get hit in the head with a flying fruitcake. However, you happen to forget your fruitcake at home, you may rent one on the spot.
The Distance Competition is about hurling a 2-pound fruitcake as far as possible. The winner is the person able to hurl the fruitcake the farthest. The distance is measured at the final resting spot of the fruitcake, not where it first hits the ground.
Catch the Fruitcake is played in groups of three team members who are required to catch fruitcakes tossed by their own devices. In this competition, the fruitcakes must be a minimum of 1 pound in weight to make sure nobody gets hurt trying to catch them. The team that catches the most fruitcakes wins.
Accuracy with Targets is another great way to take part in the competition but not get as messy. Targets are placed out in the park at distances of 75 feet, 125 feet and 175 feet at varying angles. The goal is for each team to land in or as close to as many targets as possible.
Have a great time at National Fruitcake Toss Day, but don’t forget to keep your eyes on the sky above you!