Each year in early January, the town of Manitou Springs, Colo. gathers for the Annual Great Fruitcake Toss. Besides acting as a food drive -- participants must bring one canned item to gain admission -- the event is a clever way to rid citizens of unwanted fruitcakes. Fruitcakes can be hurled, tossed or launched by a pneumatic device such as a spud gun.
Since 1994, individuals and teams have tested their projectile prowess with the promise of a trophy in one of the following categories:
- Catch the Fruitcake - Team members catch fruitcakes launched from their team's device.
- Accuracy with Targets - Targets are placed at distances of 75 feet, 125 feet and 175 feet with the objective to land or hit a target.
- Most Creative Launch/Crowd Pleaser - Teams are tasked to execute an inventive launch as judged by the crowd.
- Best Showmanship - Peoples Choice Award - Teams are judged by costume, decorated devices and slogans.
Judges take the event seriously and make contestants adhere to standards such as weight divisions (two- and four-pound fruitcakes), launching distances, fruitcake contents (must contain glacéed fruits, nuts, flour and be edible) and launching devices (non-fuel devices only) [source: Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce].
Fruitcakes have also found their way into science experiments. "Iron Science Teacher" is a competition similar to the food show "Iron Chef," wherein competitors are given a secret ingredient to perform an experiment with.
One year, the secret ingredient was fruitcake, and science teachers had 10 minutes to present their science lessons, which included dropping various sizes of fruitcakes to reenact Galileo's Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment, drowning fruitcakes in water to measure buoyancy and using fruitcakes to illustrate the powers of the digestive system [source: Torassa].
And in 2006, nutrition and food scientist Thom Castonguay blew up fruitcakes with a bomb calorimeter -- a metal box that allows for small-scale food explosions. The heat from the explosion was measured in order to determine the amount of calories in the fruitcake [source: NPR].
Though some people prefer to repurpose their fruitcakes in less dramatic ways, like the old stand-by: fruitcake-as-doorstop. For more information about holiday traditions and related articles, visit the next page.