What a Fruitcake: A Retro Graham Cracker Marshmallow Fruitcake, Circa 1950

When it comes to cakes, sometimes the line between awesome and awful can be very fine. 

And then sometimes they race right past the line into awful and never look back. Hey, that is what the delectably snarky Cake Wrecks is built on, isn't it?

That having been said, it's time to talk about the Graham Cracker Fruit Cake

Apparently there was, at one time in the 1950s or 60s, a back-of-the-box sort of graham cracker fruitcake recipe. When a reader recently asked me to help unearth it, I found a few different versions online. But when it came to testing it out, I'll be honest--I went for the one that sounded easiest, consisting of just a few ingredients: marshmallows, milk, graham crackers, maraschino cherries, and pecans.

While it wasn't evidently a wreck from the get-go, it definitely did seem to fall into the category of retro-kitchy desserts that jiggle that perhaps dropped in popularity for a reason. Unfortunately the "fail" signs became highly evident when it was removed from the pan--not only was the jiggle unsettling, but so was the hue which could best be described as "fleshy":

When served at a dinner party, the reactions were polite-- along the lines of "it's not as bad as I thought it would be" or "it's...interesting". But the fact is that it was hard to get past the fleshy tone and jiggling texture--it remained largely uneaten.

Now, I'm not ready to throw in the hat completely on this one--while I realize the recipe chosen wasn't the best, that doesn't mean that there isn't a delicious version out there (and if you've got one, feel free to send it along).

But if you're feeling lucky (or just want to know what to avoid) here's the recipe:

Graham Cracker Ice Box Fruit Cake


  • 1 lb. pkg. graham crackers
  • 3 c. pecans (broken into small pieces)
  • 1 / 2 lb maraschino cherries
  • 1 lb. pkg. miniature marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 c. milk


  1. Crush graham crackers. Mix with pecans and cherries.
  2. Melt about half of the marshmallows in milk over low heat. Allow mixture to cool.
  3. Stir in crackers, cherries and pecans; mix. Add other half of marshmallows and mix lightly. Pour into an extremely well-greased cake pan (I used a bundt pan) and press firmly.
  4. Refrigerate 4-6 hours. Using a sharp knife, gently ease the cake from the sides of the pan. It should be sort of malleable so you'll be able to feel when it has pulled away from the sides to the point that you can safely flip it. First, turn the plate upside down on top of the bottom of the pan, and then swiftly and confidently flip the whole operation. If the confection comes out perfectly, bask in a moment of well-deserved glory--if it tears and fails massively, don't fret--I've still got plenty of leftovers.