Military Experiments on Fruitcake (Part 2: 1982-4)

This is part 2 of our look at the US military’s tests, conducted at their laboratories in Natick, Massachusetts, during the 1970s and 1980s, on fruitcake, the time-honored holiday comestible. They issued at least two reports. Here’s a look at their second report:

Effects of Storage Time and Temperature on Nutritional Content of Fortified Fruitcake” [Final report 1982-1984], Ann Morrill, Mary V. Klicka, Doris E. Sherman, Maureen T. Branagan and Ivy Fossum, report ADA191995, July 1, 1987, 29 pages.

The authors explain:

Fortified fruitcake was accepted by astronauts on Apollo 17 [the last of America's lunar manned missions], permitted on SkyLab as a Christmas treat, included on the Apollo-Soyuz menu, a component of Orbital Flight Test menus, and is available for shuttle flight menu use. Results from earlier storage studies indicated that although fruitcake retained consumer acceptability throughout storage, fortification levels of some nutrients were inappropriate. This report describes the results of a two-year follow-up study on fruitcake with some alterations in nutrient fortification levels….  Fruitcakes were stored for two years at 4 C and 21 C, and one year at 38 C….

CONCLUSIONS: Fortified fruitcake is an adequate carrier of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and vitamin E. It is not adequate for vitamin B12, folacin, and ascorbic acid….

The authors wish to acknowledge gratefully the contributions of Mrs. Nancy Kelley. Mr. Henry Russell. and Mr. Henry Morgan in the production and packaging of the fruitcake.

(Thanks to investigator Brenton R. Stone and the excellent librarians of his acquaintance for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS VIDEO: Fruitcake experiments at the Science Museum of Virginia:

BONUS VIDEO: A recent Princeton University project involving a fruitcake and a robot: