It's a good thing scientists weren't especially hungry when they stepped inside one of the earliest structures built in Antarctica recently. On a shelf in a hut in Cape Adare sat a "perfectly preserved" fruitcake apparently untouched for more than a century, reports Stuff.co.nz. Made by British label Huntley & Palmers, the fruitcake was hidden inside a "severely corroded" tin taken from the hut as part of a conservation project encompassing several old huts built during a Norwegian expedition in 1899, per AAP. And though its paper had begun to deteriorate, the cake itself looked "like new" and rather tasty. Unfortunately, it didn't smell quite as good, with an odor of "rancid butter," Lizzie Meek of New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust tells Newshub.
The fruitcake was actually one of 1,500 artifacts recovered from the huts. And it wasn't the only food item. There were also "badly deteriorated" meat and fish, sardines, and "rather nice looking" jams, in addition to tools and clothing, Meek says. The fruitcake, however—believed to have been carried to Cape Adare by a member of Robert Falcon Scott's British Antarctic Expedition in 1911—was "quite a surprise," Meek says. "Most people don't carry a whole fruitcake to Antarctica and not eat it." Though it's not recommended, you could theoretically taste it if you ever visit Antarctica: Meek says all items found will be returned to the huts. She adds the fruitcake "could very well last another hundred years," if icy conditions continue. (True story: A fruitcake exec was punished for wild embezzlement.)