The Twelve Songs of Christmas: “Grandma’s Killer Fruitcake” (Elmo Shropshire)

Lorfimus Prime is back for one last go-around in this year’s Twelve Songs of Christmas series. We thank him for his time and generosity and hope to see him back soon, or at least for next year’s series!

Do you have visions of sugarplums this time of year? Maybe you’re wistful for chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Candy canes? Sugar cookies shaped like snowmen and reindeer? Eggnog? Pumpkin pie? Even figgy pudding? All perfectly normal holiday cravings. But Grandma’s killer fruitcake? Anyone’s fruitcake? Perhaps the most “re-gifted” item every year, fruitcakes are baked and wrapped and shipped to relatives, left in mailboxes for letter carriers, and packed for tiny tots with their eyes all aglow to place on the desks of unsuspecting teachers. The question that begs to be answered of course is, “Does anyone ever really eat those things?” Country singer Elmo Shropshire, he of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” fame (recorded in 1979 as Elmo and Patsy with his at-the-time wife) wrote an ode to the neglected delicacy with “Grandma’s Killer Fruitcake” which appeared on his 1992 release Dr. Elmo’s Twisted Christmas.

Listing the “attributes” of Grandma’s annual holiday gift, Elmo tells us that her cake was harder than Uncle Bucky’s head, heavier than Preacher Lucky’s sermon, denser than turkeys, and tougher than beef jerky. It could also boast the potential for widespread influence since, “One’s enough to give the whole state of Kentucky a great big bellyache!” So bad was Grandma’s killer confection that he would rather eat Aunt Dolly’s possum pie and Wilma’s gizzard mousse.

As hard as it is to believe, millions of fruitcakes are sold each year and The United States celebrates National Fruitcake Day on December 27 each year. The cakes have a reputation of lasting for years and date as far back as ancient Rome (though it is doubtful that any from that era remain; they’re not Twinkies after all).

While “Grandma’s Killer Fruitcake” has not received the notoriety of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” it has achieved a cult following, perhaps in part stemming from its appearance in the 2000 animated television special Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer and its annual airings. In this variation of the tune, Grandma runs a general store where her notorious fruitcakes are sold.

So, as our journey through The Twelve Songs of Christmas continues, pull up a chair, slice up a fruitcake, and see what the fuss is all about.

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