A 100-year-old fruit cake found in Antarctica looks and smells fresh

Image: Antarctic Heritage Trust

A 100-year-old fruit cake found in Antarctica wrapped in paper in a tin box looks and smells “almost edible”.

The New Zealand based Antarctic Heritage Trust says the cake, made by Huntley & Palmers in he UK, was found among artefacts from Cape Adare in East Antarctica and probably belonged to British explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

“The cake probably dates to the Cape Adare-based Northern Party of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition (1910–1913) as it has been documented that Scott took this particular brand of cake with him at that time,” the Antarctic Heritage Trust says.

Although the tin was in poor condition, the cake itself looked and smelt (almost) edible.

“Finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise,” says programme manager-Artefacts Lizzie Meek.

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

A team of four conservators have been working in the Canterbury Museum laboratory on the conservation of Antarctic artefacts from Cape Adare since May 2016.

The Trust now plans conservation work on huts at Cape Adare, originally built by Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink’s expedition in 1899.

The buildings were the first in Antarctica.

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