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It’s hard to truly know when fruitcake became such a maligned baked good, but its reputation as the booby prize of the winter holidays has persisted for decades. Like candy corn on Halloween, folks either really, really love fruitcake and will fight you to the death to defend it — or think it should be tossed like the One Ring into the fiery pits of Mordor. If you’re of the latter group, the Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss should be on your to-do list on Jan. 25. If the name wasn’t self-evident, we’ll lay it out: You get to throw fruitcake. Now, you won’t be tossing it as far as Mordor, but you also won’t be ruining the lives of any hobbits to get rid of it, either. We feel that’s still pretty cool. Here’s a look at the event.
What’s a Fruitcake?
Most people automatically think they hate it, but have probably never tasted it. The poor cake has been banished in most households. What makes a fruitcake a fruitcake? In addition to being a rather snarky term for your favorite eccentric aunt, fruitcakes are a dessert that go back to the days of the Romans. In modern America, your average fruitcake is a densely baked, moist, dark cake loaded with candied fruits, nuts and occasionally soaked with liquor. Most people feel that even alcohol can’t save the dreaded dessert, going so far as to say it’s abusive to the liquor. The flavor tends align more with sweets like zucchini bread or gingerbread with echoes of the alcohol (if added).
You Don’t Have to BYOF (Bring Your Own Fruitcake)
Because of its reputation as dulcis non-grata, most people don’t give fruitcake for gifts anymore. That means you probably don’t just have it lying around the house. However, that doesn’t mean you need to bow out of the fun. You can rent a cake for a $1 and enter competitions for distance, balance, accuracy and more. There’s a couple of ways to toss (we recommend the three-man slingshot). Showing up is free, but a non-perishable donation is recommended. It goes to local food banks, so you get to have fun and do good, too.
Don’t Despair, Fruitcake Fans
Like those who love candy corn, liver and IPAs, there’s a certain — albeit odd — segment of the population that actually digs this dense, funky dessert. For those folks, you’re in for a real treat. Pun completely intended. There’s going to be a fruitcake bake-off, with bakers trying to earn the title of King or Queen baker. The attendees are going to vote on the winner and to add a twist, the cakes will be natural, organic and free from GMOs. Email Fruitcaketoss@gmail.com if you want to participate or ask questions.
The event runs from 1-3 p.m. on Jan. 25 in Memorial Park in Manitou Springs. As always when traveling to Manitou, it’s important to plan ahead for traffic, construction and parking. Arrive early and try to skirt the traffic by using Hwy. 24 and coming into Manitou past the construction. Don’t park in residential areas unless you want to pay a huge ticket or even be towed. That’s going to put a damper on the fun, for sure. As we mentioned above, tossing a cake will cost a $1 and you should definitely bring a non-perishable item (or several) for the Westside Cares Food Bank.
Manitou Springs has been hosting this fling-festival for more than 23 years. Warm up your pitching arm, gather any spare cakes you have and head over to the park for fun founded in decades of tradition.