Rule #1: Beware the bargain bin.

I'm beginning to suspect fruitcake is one of those ghost traditions -- everybody's familiar with fruitcake at Christmas, but its myth is far overblown compared to its presence. I've gone at least twenty Christmases without it, and I've never felt deprived because of it.

However, they were discounted to half-price at the local Safeway, so I figured I might as well see what the fuss is. Not wanting to re-clog the holiday arteries, I chose the light (well, lighter) fruitcake. The taste wasn't actually too bad. Strong enough to require a large glass of milk, but not too bad. If I hadn't read the ingredient list, my story might have ended there.

So, here's a question for you. What do you think is the most common ingredient in Safeway's "light" fruitcake? Walnuts? Flour? Some sort of fruit, perhaps?

Nope... Rutabaga.

Rutabaga? Now, I've got nothing against rutabaga, but... I thought I knew rutabaga. I thought we had an understanding. Now, I have to question everything I ever thought I knew about rutabaga. Don't they realise this?

And besides, this is fruitcake. Don't you think that after endless years of arguing about tomatoes, that people would learn from their mistakes and not make a fruitcake out of a vegetable?

See, this is the inherent danger in any tradition. You let it coast along for a few years, and when you take a second look, it's been changed into a root vegetable, on the assumption that no one will question a cherished tradition.

Well, that's not going to happen to me next time! This Valentine's Day is going to be chocolate-free.

Unless it's half-price in the bargain bin, apparently.

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.