141-year-old fruitcake is a Michigan family’s heirloom

TECUMSEH, MICHIGAN (AP) — Some families pass down jewellery, watches or even recipes. But a Michigan family has its own heirloom: a 141-year-old fruitcake. “It’s a great thing,” said Julie Ruttinger, the great great granddaughter of Fidelia Ford, who baked the cake in 1878.

“It was tradition. It’s a legacy.”

The cake was initially preserved to honour Ford. She established a tradition of baking the cake and letting it age for a year before serving it during holiday seasons. Ford died at age 65 before her 1878 cake could be eaten, and by the time the holidays arrived, the family considered her handiwork a legacy, not food.

Until his 2013 death, the cake was in the care of Ruttinger’s father, Morgan Ford, who was Fidelia Ford’s great-grandson. He had stored it in an antique glass dish on the top shelf of a china cabinet in his Tecumseh home — which is where it remains today. “He took care of it to the day he left the earth,” Ruttinger said.

“We knew it meant a lot to him.”

Julie Ruttinger, of Tecumseh, Michigan, holds a 141-year-old fruitcake, a family heirloom baked by her great-great-grandmother, Fidelia Ford, in 1878. PHOTO: AP