The other day we were checking out a can of Spam in the newsroom that was given as a Christmas present a few years ago. Although there were no takers, the Spam was still on the eatable side, we think.

It got us to think about other Christmas food products we may receive under the Christmas, like a fruitcake. The lore of the fruitcake says it will survive a nuclear war, well, not quite, according to a North Carolina State University food safety researcher.

“All of these dried and candied ingredients have what we call ‘low water activity,’ meaning they have very little moisture available,” said  Ben Chapman,. “Low water activity is important because of many microorganisms, including foodborne illness-causing bacteria, need moisture in order to reproduce.

“In practical terms, this makes most fruitcakes extremely shelf stable, so they would be safe to eat for a long time – a really long time. But it might taste pretty bad.”

A fruitcake can last two or three months in the refrigerator without spoiling, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you want to re-gift, it stays good in the freezer for up to a year.

According to, another holiday standard, Gingerbread can last six to eight in the freeze. If not frozen, Gingerbread Cake can last five to seven day past printed dates, Gingerbread cookies, two to three weeks, and Gingerbread House, three to four weeks.


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