• U.S.

Fruitycake: A yummy MIL-F-14499F

2 minute read

Can anything be nuttier than a fruit cake? Try the Pentagon’s recipe for making one. MIL-F-14499F, the Defense Department’s specifications for holiday fruitcake for its 2.2 million servicemen and-women, consumes 18 pages vs. the two-thirds of a page for standard dark fruitcake in the classic Joy of Cooking. Even for the organization that created 22 pages of specs for a “trap, mouse,” and 16 pages for a “whistle, plastic,” the recipe for “fruitcake, canned,” represents a point, high.

The ingredients . . . er, components, are described in Pentagonese worthy of Star Wars. Vanilla flavoring is called for “in such quantities that its presence shall be organoleptically detected, but not to a pronounced degree.” Translation: having some taste and smell. Preparation instructions run on for five pages, requiring that “the blended fruitcake batter, sufficient to yield the specified weight, shall then be deposited into cans with liners and disks” and baked at not more than 375° or steamed “to meet the end requirements of 3.5,” another section of MIL-F-14499F.

Georgia Senator Sam Nunn called the recipe a “perfect specification, cost-is-no-object” fruitcake. Pentagon officials replied that the elaborate instructions ensured product consistency. The cost worked out to a reasonable $1.51 per lb. About 75,000 lbs. were shipped to U.S. troops, who had no complaints, organoleptically or otherwise.

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