The Antarctic Heritage Trust is proving just how eternal fruitcake can be with the unveiling of a 100-year-old specimen found in a building at Cape Adare, a peninsula in Antarctica. The dessert, made by British cake makers Huntley & Palmers, was found wrapped in paper inside the remains of a tin, and was "almost edible", the organisation said in a statement. It was discovered in an abandoned hut at Cape Adare which dates back to an Antarctic expedition in the late 19th century.
"Finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise", Lizzie Meek of the Antarctic Heritage Trust said. "It has been documented that Scott took this particular brand of cake with him at the time".
The Terra Nova expedition was Scott's second venture into Antarctica.
Since May a year ago, the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust has been preserving artefacts found at Cape Adare.
However, when they reached the pole in January 1912 they discovered they had been beaten in their quest by a Norwegian group, led by Roald Amundsen, by a mere 34 days. Scott's entire team perished on the return journey from the pole.
Scott's team took shelter in the Cape Adare building during their expedition and left the fruitcake.
Anyhoo, the AHT is now doing its conservation work under a permit that will require them to return all items to the site once the huts themselves have been restored. "The cake itself looked and smelled (almost) edible" and was in "excellent condition", the researchers claimed.
So what do conservators do with a 100-year-old tea cake? Conservators are now planning to conserve the huts that were built in 1899 by Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink and used by Captain Scott in 1911.
So it doesn't appear that anyone will be eating this fruitcake anytime soon, which is just as well.