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Food & Dining

Bring us your best fruitcake haiku

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 09:24 AM

Six decades.

It may be hard to believe, but that's how long Lucille Harvey's recipe for making White Fruitcake has run in the Tampa Tribune.

Think about that.

In 1951, Harry Truman was president. That same year, J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" was first published. "I Love Lucy" debuted on TV. "The King & I" opened on Broadway.

The world changes. Nations come and go. Life moves on.

Fruitcakes last forever.

It was that same year that Mrs. Harvey's fruitcake took second place in the Tribune's fruitcake recipe contest. Few remember who the winner was, but Lucille's cake captured something in the imagination of home bakers.

Bakers like Mary Ellen Ahrens, a former Tampa resident who now lives in Greensboro, N.C.

"I baked my fruitcakes today so I could give them out at Thanksgiving," Mary Ellen wrote last week in an e-mail. "What fun! It brings back so many happy memories of my mother baking them all the years I was growing up.

"Do you know," she continued, "that Mrs. Harvey's recipe is on the lid of the Paradise candied cherries/pineapple?"

I wasn't aware of that, Mary Ellen, but it doesn't surprise me. Mrs. Harvey's holiday dessert has always inspired great love.

Which is why we've honored that tradition since 2006 by holding the Mrs. Harvey's White Fruitcake Haiku Contest.

The contest has become so prestigious that its reputation has spread to all corners of the country.

During Thanksgiving 2009, Erin Renouf Mylroie of Santa Clara, Utah, read in her newspaper about Tribune's annual haiku contest.

The Deseret News borrowed the idea and held a pie haiku contest that year, with Thanksgiving pie being the focus instead of fruitcake.

Mylroie bested more than 350 submitted poems last year with this haiku:

Snowmen aren't picky.

Still, Grandma's fruitcake gets a

Frosty Reception.

Some of her stronger competition last year included these ditties:

On the thirteenth day

My true love sent me fruitcake

That's when we broke up

- Sonya Pflanzer, Tampa

Fruitcake from Aunt Ruth

Is re-gifted to Aunt Jane

Good thing they don't speak

- Ellen Welch, Lakeland

Dog died this morning

Smell of fruitcake on his breath.

Better him than me.

- Joe Villeneuve, Tampa

Fruitcake lovers (and haters), it's time to do so once again. Hoist your pencils or pens, or whatever it is you use to make the word stuffs. Write a traditional haiku -- first and third lines of five syllables, the second line has seven -- and send it in.

E-mail it to jhouck@tampatrib.com or mail it to Fruitcake Haiku Contest, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa FL 33606. Please include your address and a daytime phone number where you can be reached.

Write as many of those addictive little poems as you like, but the deadline for receiving submissions is Dec. 12.

Shannon O'Malley, author of the book "Apocalypse Cakes; Recipes For The End" (Running Press, $14), has agreed to be this year's celebrity judge.

May the best fruitcake win.


jhouck@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7324

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