Conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust in New Zealand recently found a century-old fruitcake in Antarctica’s oldest building in “excellent condition”.
The fruitcake, made by British biscuit company Huntley & Palmers, was likely brought by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott to Antarctica during their Terra Nova expedition between 1910 and 1913.
Wrapped in paper and remains of a tin, the fruitcake still looks and smells almost edible even after over a 100 years, reports National Geographic.
The cake, found in the oldest building in the continent, a hut on Antarctica’a Cape Adare, withstood over a century in the coldest, windiest and driest place on the Earth.
Scott’s Northern Party reportedly took shelter in the hut during the expedition, which was built in 1899 by Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink’s team.
A Heritage Trust team has been excavating artifacts in the hut since last year.
"Fruitcake was a popular item in English society at the time, and it remains popular today," Lizzie Meek, conservation manager for artifacts at the trust, told National Geographic.
"Living and working in Antarctica tends to lead to a craving for high-fat, high-sugar food, and fruitcake fits the bill nicely, not to mention going very well with a cup of tea."
Scott reached the South Pole with his four crews in 1912, but all of them died on their return journey to the Terra Nova hut on Cape Evans, their expedition base.
The Heritage Trust conservators have restored the 50-foot-long hut, the largest Antarctic building of its time, and several other portable wooden huts.
The conservators returned the artifacts and the fruitcake to their original locations within the huts after restoring them.
"Fruitcake is not something that people usually get excited about, but this discovery shows what a spectacular environment for historic preservation the Antarctic is," Clemson University historian Stephanie Barczewski told National Geographic.
The discovery also highlights the "importance of protecting its fragile environment, because we don't know what other amazing things we might find from the Heroic Age of exploration," she added.