100-year-old Antarctic fruitcake found in ‘(almost) edible’ condition

ABOVE: The Antarctic Heritage Trust found the fruitcake and believe it is over a century old.

Conservators with the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) recently found perfectly preserved fruitcake believed to be more than a century old.

The cake was found among other artifacts in a building at Cape Adare, the first buildings erected on the continent.

“The cake probably dates to the Cape Adare-based Northern Party of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition (1910 – 1913) as it has been documented that Scott took this particular brand of cake with him at that time,” AHT noted.

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The cake, made by British company Huntley & Palmers, was found still wrapped in paper and enclosed in a tin container. Though the container was found in poor condition, the cake itself “looked” and smelled “(almost) edible,” AHT said.

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“With just two weeks to go on the conservation of the Cape Adare artifacts, finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise.

AHT program manager Lizzie Meek said the find was “quite a surprise.”

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“It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favourite item on modern trips to the Ice.”

Since 2016, a small team has been working to artifact conservation at Cape Adare and recently completed a project conserving more than 1,500 items.

According to the Trust, the huts were built by Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink’s expedition in 1899 and later used by Captain Scott’s party in 1911.