View Full Version : Fruitcake Faces Long Arm of the Law

12-17-2005, 09:00 AM
Nothing like fruitcase sprinked with larvae...
Fruitcakes faced long arm of the law

Be grateful your family holiday package didn’t wind up in court

The Kansas City Star

The Rodney Dangerfield of Christmas treats gets no respect. There’s even a Web site dedicated to creative uses for fruitcakes. (Example: “Give one to your boss and tell him it’s a life preserver.”)

But it could be worse. Sixty years ago, the federal government actually sued a bunch of fruitcakes.


Titled “United States of America vs. 41 cases, more or less of Fruit Cake,” the odd holiday indulgences faced some pretty determined G-Men, according to recently unearthed court documents.

On Nov. 30, 1945, U.S. District Judge Albert L. Reeves — one of the toughest judges to ever warm the federal bench in Kansas City — dispatched the “Habibette Miniature” fruitcakes to their final fate.

Reeves was no stranger to controversy, or strange cases. He had braved threats from local mobsters and played a role in the demise of political boss Tom Pendergast. Reeves also presided over the infamous Greenlease kidnapping-murder trial in the 1950s.

Reeves ordered the United States marshal to dispose of the offending fruitcakes after having “found, adjudged and decreed” that they consisted “wholly or in part of a filthy substance by reason of presence therein of beetles, larvae, and rodent hair fragments.”

Specifically, he ordered them to be used as “hog feed.”

Nothing in court records indicates whether Reeves, or Sam Hargus, the assistant U.S. attorney who handled the case, had any predisposition for or against fruitcakes, adulterated or not. And neither is still alive to speak to the issue.

But they apparently were big fans of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938 which — and this is the hard part to believe — regulates what you can put in fruitcakes.

The weird federal lawsuit is the centerpiece of a holiday display at the Central Plains Region of the National Archives. The display, “Documents of the Season,” was compiled by archivist Lori Cox-Paul.

Among the collection are holiday telegrams sent to prisoners at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary and a World War II draft registration card for Santa Claus. Apparently, there was a preacher whose real name was Santa Claus.

Cox-Paul found the fruitcake document while searching for something else among 75 million pages of court records. But the archivist wisely refused to take sides in the great fruitcake debate.

“I guess I am neutral on fruitcake,” she said.

12-17-2005, 09:04 AM
With that title, I thought for sure this was a thread about DenverChief balancing work with play.