Conservationists working to preserve artifacts in the first buildings ever constructed in Antarctica have found something extraordinary: a perfectly preserved, 106-year-old fruitcake.
No, the cake is not a sign that Santa Claus hails from the South Pole, rather it is likely a leftover from Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated 1910 to 1913 Terra Nova expedition, where the explorer sought to be the first to reach the geographic South Pole, reports Christine Dell’Amore at National Geographic.
According to a press release from the Antarctic Heritage Trust, the cake was one of approximately 1,500 artifacts taken from buildings that were first constructed at Cape Adare, Antarctica, in 1899. The cake was found a tin from the bakers Huntley & Palmers. While the tin was corroded, the cake itself was intact and still wrapped in wax paper. “There was a very, very slight rancid butter smell to it, but other than that, the cake looked and smelled edible! There is no doubt the extreme cold in Antarctica has assisted its preservation,” says Lizzie Meeks, the Trust’s program manager for artifacts.
Yonette Joseph at The New York Times reports that researchers believe the cake belonged to the Terra Nova team because Huntley & Palmers was the bakery Scott commissioned to supply biscuits and cakes for his expeditions.
Dell’Amore reports that it’s likely the cake was left at the cabin by Scott’s Northern Party. Scott, with a team five men, eventually made it to the South Pole, only to find they were 34 days behind an expedition led by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen. Scott and his team all perished on their return journey.
Story Credit: Smithsonianmag
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