100-year-old fruitcake found in Antarctica in 'excellent condition'

Conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust, based in New Zealand, recently found the fruitcake in a hut at Cape Adare the oldest building in Antarctica.
By Harry Marcolis | Aug 15, 2017
A team excavating Cape Adare in Antarctica, where British explorer Robert Falcon Scott's party took shelter during their 1910-1913 Terra Nova expedition, has stumbled on a century-old fruitcake in such good condition that it looks and smells almost edible.

Conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust, based in New Zealand, recently found the fruitcake in a hut at Cape Adare the oldest building in Antarctica.

Although the tin the cake came in, manufactured by British biscuit company Huntley & Palmers, was in poor condition, the cake itself seemed almost as if it had been bought yesterday.

"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," said Programme Manager-Artefacts Lizzie Meeks, in a statement. "It's an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favorite on modern trips to the Ice."

Scott and his four-person team arrived at the South Pole in 1912, but all died while returning to their base camp on Cape Evans, according to National Geographic.

Conservators have been excavating artifacts at Cape Adare since 2016. The hut where they found the fruitcake was built by Norwegian explorer Carsten Borchgrevink's team in 1899.

"Fruitcake is not something that people usually get excited about, but this discovery shows what a spectacular environment for historic preservation the Antarctic is," wrote Stephanie Barczewski, a historian at Clemson University, in an email to National Geographic.

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