Graham Cracker Fruit Cake

Sometimes called Kelvinator cake.

May 2, 1933 The Leader-Post, Regina, Saskatchewan (click image to enlarge)

Although the Kelvinator brand was one of two dozen home refrigerators introduced in 1916, it was its 1918 innovation of self-adjusting temperature control that helped it capture 80% of the market by 1923. That level of market share is impressive, considering a new Kelvinator in the 1920s cost about 1.75 times as much as a new Ford.

The self-adjusting controls were worth it, to most buyers. With other contemporary brands, you’d have to tinker with the controls–too low and you risk spoilage; too high and you risk cracking your milk bottles when the milk freezes.

The company was founded in 1914 in Detroit as the Electro-Automatic Refrigerating Company. It switched to Kelvinator in 1916, in honor of Irish physicist and engineer William Thompson, who, after determining the correct value of absolute zero on the Celsius scale (negative 273.15 degrees, if you’re counting), was created the first Baron Kelvin.

Mind you, all refrigerators operate at about two hundred seventy-five degrees Celsius warmer than Kelvin’s absolute zero, and if you somehow did get your refrigerator to that temperature, then as a matter of hypothetical kinetic theory (discounting the effect of quantum mechanical zero-point energy mandated by the laws of thermodynamics), you probably wouldn’t be able to open it.

But it does sound rather impressive, doesn’t it?

To promote its products, Kelvinator promoted the idea of “Cook with Cold” in advertisements from the 1920s to the 1950s. It would also sponsor cooking schools (the kind we discussed in the Salina Journal Cooking School post) where cook-with-cold techniques would be demonstrated.

A recipe similar to this one was used by dealerships to demonstrate Kelvinator refrigerators in the 1930s, and shared in the December 4, 1937 edition of the Middlesboro (Kentucky) Daily News:

Graham cracker crumbs, candied fruits, pecans, and marshmallows go into it–graham crackers for bulk, candied fruits and nuts for flavor, and the marshmallows are to hold the cake together–sort of make it stand and face the world squarely, so to speak.

Marshmallow Fruit Cake

(serves 12)

2 pack-ettes (1/2 pound) marshmallows (cut in quarters)
1 cup coffee cream
4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup candied cherries (chopped)
1 cup candied pineapple (chopped)
1 cup dates (chopped)
1 cup salted pecans
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
2 teaspoons sherry or lemon juice

Place marshmallows and cream in saucepan. Heat over low flame, folding over and over until marshmallows are about half melted. Remove from flame and continue folding until the marshmallows have formed a smooth, fluffy mixture. Cool, and then mix all the ingredients throughly with the marshmallows, reserving 1/4 cup of the graham cracker crumbs. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup crumbs in a well-oiled loaf pan and pack the mixture into it. Place in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled. Slice and serve plain or with topping of whipped cream.


From the box of C.C. from Ceres, California.

Graham Cracker Fruit Cake

1 lb. of marshmallows
1 lb. of Graham crackers
2 cups of oleo (margarine)
2 jars, 1 green and 1 red, candied cherries
4 cups of nuts

Melt oleo and marshmallows together. Have all the other ingredients mixed. Then pour melted oleo and marshmallows over mix. Press into pan that has been greased with margarine. Let set in refrigerate a while.

From the kitchen of Carol Chadwick

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