Steuben County officials regift same fruitcake for 25 years

BATH, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - - If you've ever regifted, the present likely didn't continue to be regifted for 25 years after that.

It all started in 1991 when County Legislature Chairman Lynn Morse sold fruitcakes for the Kiwanis.

Then-county Administrator Mark Alger supported the Kiwanis despite not being much of a fan of the dessert, so he regifted it the following year.

The cake has traditionally been regifted every December since. Steuben County Public Health Director Darlene Smith was the most recent owner.

"Over the years, it evolved into a ransom and bribes and stealing of the fruitcake and just all kinds of different scenarios attached to it to make it a little bit more fun," Smith said.

The following year's recipient is always announced at the final legislative meeting of the year.

"When we got to it on the agenda, our chairman said, 'Now the fun begins!' and then it was time for the passing of the fruitcake," Smith said. "You have all year to plan who you chose you're going to give it to, and how you're going to do it, and what you're going to say, so it does kind of increase camaraderie I think."

It has almost every year marked on it including the names of the regifters and receivers. It even has an official 'Property of Steuben County' sticker. After being kept in freezers for the last quarter-century, it's rock-solid and apparently, still in its original packaging.

So, who was the lucky (or not so lucky) recipient of this year's 25-year-old fruitcake? Mitch Alger, son of Mark Alger, the man who started the whole thing.

"I have mixed feelings about it I would say," Alger said. "But no, it's great to be part of the tradition. Coming full circle starting with my father has been kind of a cool thing."

I asked both Alger and Smith how much they'd have to be paid to consume a bite out of the cake. They both laughed.

"It would have to be a pretty high price tag," Alger said. "I'm not sure what it would be."

Alger says that he's not revealing where he plans on hiding the dessert since it has been held for ransom in the past, and that he and Smith hope the tradition lives on forever. 

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