This 100-Year-Old Antarctic Fruitcake Still Looks ‘Like New’ And Edible
This dessert is indestructible, surviving a century in the Earth’s coldest place.
Conservators working with the Antarctic Heritage Trust recently discovered a 100-year-old fruitcake in Antarctica’s oldest building, a hut located in Cape Adare.
Discovering The Century-Old Fruitcake
Made by Huntley & Palmers, the artifact was found still wrapped in paper and encased in the remains of a tin.
“Although the tin was in poor condition, the cake itself looked and smelt (almost) edible,” the trust noted in a statement.
It was British explorer Robert Falcon Scott who likely brought the sweets to Antarctica during the group’s Terra Nova expedition from 1910 to 1913, National Geographic reported. The Northern Party from the expedition sought shelter in the hut, which was built in 1899.
Along with his four-person group, Scott reached the South Pole in 1912. But all of them died on their way back to the expedition base.
According to Lizzie Meek, conservation manager for artifacts at the New Zealand-based trust, fruitcake was a renowned item in English society during that time.
“It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favorite item on modern trips to the Ice,” she said, adding that living and working in the area tended to lead to a craving for high-fat and high-sugar treats.
Conservation And Tourism In Antarctica
A team has been recovering artifacts in the hut, which was among the first in the continent to be built, since last year. They recently finished the project in July, successfully conserving nearly 1,500 artifacts.
Their conservation work involved removing rust and coating the remnants of the tin.
The huts are hoped to draw in more visitors to Antarctica and add to its thriving tourist demand. Aside from this, they “help tell the stories of exploration and derring-do,” according to lead conservator Gordon Macdonald back in 2015.
Just last month, a massive Delaware-size iceberg made headlines by breaking off from the Larsen C ice shelf off western Antarctica. The ice shelf is the fourth largest in the continent, and was long suspected to be on the verge of breaking off due to an every-growing deep crack.
Scientists did not express alarm over the calving, claiming it to be a natural occurrence. Ice shelves are believed to naturally break up as they extend further out into the vast ocean, and it was not the first humungous iceberg that formed.
The ice shelf, too, is likely to regrow amid shedding icebergs.