Century-Old Fruit Cake Found in Antarctic Hut

A well-preserved 106-year-old fruit cake has been found in a hut on Cape Adare, Northern Victoria Land, Antarctica.

The Huntley and Palmer’s fruit cake from Cape Adare. Image credit: New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.

The Huntley and Palmer’s fruit cake from Cape Adare. Image credit: New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.

The Cape Adare huts were built by Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink’s British Antarctic (Southern Cross) Expedition in 1899 and later used by the Northern Party of Captain Scott’s Antarctic Expedition in 1911.

The site is notable not only for its role in the discovery of Antarctica but also as the only example left of humanity’s first building on any continent.

The well-preserved fruit cake was found by a team of researchers from the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT).

The 106-year-old fruit cake in wrapper. Image credit: New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.

The 106-year-old fruit cake in wrapper. Image credit: New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.

“The cake probably dates to the Cape Adare-based Northern Party of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition,” the experts said.

Made by Huntley Palmers, the cake is in excellent condition: it’s still wrapped in paper and encased in the remains of a tin-plated iron alloy tin.

“The fruit cake itself looked and smelt (almost) edible,” the AHT researchers said.

The fruit cake after conservation treatment. Image credit: New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.

The fruit cake after conservation treatment. Image credit: New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.

“Finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise,” added AHT expert Lizzie Meek.

“It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favorite item on modern trips to the Ice.”

The AHT team is now planning to begin the conservation work on the buildings at Cape Adare.

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