Wesson’s Famous Fruit Cake – The Five Days of Vintage Fruit Cake

Posted on Dec 19 2013 - 5:19am by RetroRuth

This year for our Christmas baking we decided to throw all caution to the wind and to venture into the land of doorstops and vibrantly-colored, nuclear fruit.

That’s right. This year it’s fruit cake for all!


What’s funny is that during the mid-century, fruit cake was already considered a “grandma’s dessert” and the butt of many a joke. So we thought it would be interesting to test out a couple of recipes from magazine ads of the time to see what the interpretations of “hip” fruit cakes of the day would be.

But we had to have a place to start, so we picked this classic Wesson Oil fruit cake recipe from an ad in a  1953 Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

4.0 from 2 reviews
Wesson's Famous Fruit Cake
  • 1 cup Wesson Oil
  • 1½ cups brown sugar, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted Gold Medal flour
  • 1 tsp double-action baking powder
  • 2 tsp salf
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup pineapple, apple or orange juice
  • 1 cup chopped candied pineapple
  • 1 cup thinly sliced citron
  • 1½ cups whole candied cherries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped Diamond Walnuts
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped mixed nuts
  1. Mix together oil, brown sugar and eggs in a bowl. Vigorously beat with a spoon or electric mixer for two minutes.
  2. Sift together 2 cups of flour and rest of dry ingredients. Stir into oil mixture alternately with the juice.
  3. Sift remaining cup of flour over combined fruits and nuts. Pour batter over fruit and mix.
  4. Line 2 greased loaf pans with paper. Pour batter into pans. Place a pan of water on lower rack of oven.
  5. Bake cakes for 2½ to 3 hours in a slow oven (275 degrees). *Mine took 2½ hours to bake*
  6. Cool on racks without removing paper. When cool, remove paper and seal in a covered container in a cool place to ripen.

Wesson Oil Holiday Baking001 BHG Dec 1953

We mostly picked this because of the “famous” in the name. I assumed this meant that this recipe had been around for some time!


This was a really easy cake to put together. Actually, it wasn’t so much as a cake as a quick bread, like banana bread.


It even looks like banana bread batter! Except for the red and green cherries.


The biggest difference between this and banana bread was the incredibly long cooking time, similar to the long cooking time in our previous adventures into fruit cake (pork cake!).


But all-in-all, this bread came together quickly, smelled good while baking and looked pretty festive.


I don’t even mind the cherries that much!

Tom TastesIMG_4670

“This is good. Tastes like a fruit and nut cake.”

The Verdict: Good

From The Testing Notes:

Good fruit and nut flavor. Not too moist, but not dry either. Cake itself is good, but not very spicy. Would benefit from extra spices and some rum or brandy! Good overall-would be very tasty as a breakfast bread.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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6 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. dkzody December 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Again, you need to age it in brandy soaked cheesecloth. Really adds to the fruitcake experience.

  2. celia December 19, 2013 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    This fruitcake breaks my heart. You must try Clementine Paddleford’s recipe.

  3. deb December 20, 2013 at 6:54 am - Reply

    My grandmother’s recipe involves fruit, condensewd milk, and crushed vanilla wafers. You put it in the fridge (hence the name ‘ice box fruit cake’). While not traditional, it is a very old and very yummy recipe that we make every year. People definitely give you strange looks when you tell them you like fruit cake!

  4. Cath November 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Loved the 195 recipe and have misplaced. Made with prune juice, and we added extra fruit. Best Christmas cake I have ever had

  5. Beth December 3, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    So..I’ve made this for years and here’s the kicker…I still have the actual recipe on the advert page pictured above. It appeared in a Sunday newspaper magazine insert. My mom made it a few times and I carried on the tradition. Wrapping and soaking in alcohol makes it wonderful…being from the more southern latitudes, I use bourbon!

  6. Eloise Jones December 18, 2015 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    I ordered Wesson Oil Cookbook for 50 cents back in the 50’s. It had a lot of outstanding recipes in it. The book has fallen a part over the years. It was a paperback. I made this fruitcake every Christmas for years. I copied the recipe onto index cards. Thank you for sharing it.

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