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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Fruitcake Follies

Air Date: Week of

It's holiday time, and with the holidays comes fruitcake — and a letter of protest from cranky Uncle Wilbert. Host Jan Nunley reads us a "letter" from her “uncle” warning of the environmental evils of fruitcake, along with some unusual solutions — yeah, it’s a satire


NUNLEY: Speaking of letters...The holiday season is a magical time for most people, but - let's face it - somebody will always find something wrong with it, usually cranky old Uncle Wilbert. 'Course maybe he's right this time. You decide. Here's his latest letter:

Dear Jan, (he writes)

You ought to warn your listeners about fruitcakes, and you could use some of this advice yourself. Everyone loves to give 'em...but no one seems to want 'em. In fact, there are so many fruitcakes going straight from the store to the Christmas tree to the trash can that they're causing a major ecological crisis.

Now, take the ingredients. First up, there's sugar - from sugar plantations that the government says are polluting the Everglades. Then there's the alcohol - that's rum, another sugar byproduct, and Cognac - made from grapes. Look out for the pesticides. Then you have those little bits of neon-glazed fruit. 'Nuff said there.

Then there's transportation. No one ever gets fruitcake from the neighbor next door - they always seem to come from a relative halfway across the continent. Do you know how much carbon is pumped into the air by all those 18-wheelers and airplanes hauling fruitcakes?

Well, then of course there's the disposal problem, which I won't bother to go into 'cuz I know you don't have a lot of time on your show. I just bet that if all those fruitcakes were stacked up they'd go higher than the NPR satellite.

Well, Uncle Wilbert goes on:

It's not like there's nothing you can do about this mess. My "reduce, re-use and recycle" credo applies, as usual. Your Aunt Dora and I are putting out the word this Christmas - our house is a "fruitcake-free space." Meanwhile, the fruitcake you and the others sent last year are doing a pretty good job of propping up the garage. Then there's recycling. The family across the street has been passing around a single fruitcake since the Depression - it's seen more use than an old Coke bottle.

Now what I like, [Wilbert writes] is a new solution from the grand tradition of the American entrepreneur - a fake fruitcake, ready for disposal. They're called "Grandma Keenan's Flaming Fruitcake" - would I kid you? - they're combustible fruitcakes made from recycled products, designed to go straight into the fireplace. I think Grandma Keenan may have hit on something. It may add a bit to global warming and airborne particulates, but at least it'll give us something to keep away the chill on those cold winter nights. Now that's something I know your listeners can use.

Your loving uncle, Wilbert.



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