Love it or hate it, there's no doubt that fruitcake has left an indelible mark on the holiday dessert scene. This holiday treat, which has been around for centuries, is crammed full of dried or candied fruit, nuts, and rum or brandy. These ingredients, combined with flour, eggs and sugar, make fruitcake an extremely dense dessert -- a six-serving loaf weighs in around 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms). Many fruitcake critics cite the overwhelming heaviness as the dessert's main turnoff. Others appreciate the myriad of flavors resulting from the combination of spices, fruits and liquor. Hardcore fruitcake aficionados recommend preparing the dessert a few months in advance of your holiday dinner to allow the flavors time to properly emerge [source: O'Shea].
Historians believe that fruitcake originated in ancient Rome, although the recipe was a little different back then: a barley mash mixed with pomegranate seeds, raisins and pine nuts. During the Middle Ages, cooks experimented by adding preserved fruits, spices and honey to the cake. By the 18th century, the recipe had grown so decadent that it was temporarily outlawed in Europe because it was thought to be sinfully rich. Eventually, the law was overturned, and fruitcake became a popular teatime snack in England [source: Stradley].
Today, fruitcake is especially popular during the holidays. In fact, back in 2006, nearly 3,000 pounds (1,361 kilograms) of fruitcake were delivered to soldiers in Iraq during the holiday season.