GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Pierre Girard loves the holidays. In late November, he always pulls a tin box out of the top of his closet. He calls it the gift that keeps on giving and he proudly displays the contents, what many might call an "ugly" decoration, on his grand piano.
"That's my spice cake; Christmas cake. Hundred years old," Girard says proudly in his living room. It's hard to describe. It has a slight sent of clove or cinnamon, weighs about four pounds, looks dull brown, and yes, it's more than likely 100 years old.
Girard points to the box it came in. "It says 'Christmas cake baked in the year 1911 by my mother's brother Alex.'"
Girard got this old cake as a gag gift a decade and a half ago from some friends who used to run estate sales. They found the old box and cake in a closet in St. Louis Park. Figuring they couldn't sell it, and realizing that it wouldn't be claimed by any relatives, they wrapped it and gave it to Girard. Thing is, he hung on to it.
"Somebody needs to take care of it after I'm gone. I haven't had any volunteers yet. There's also the possibility of putting it on eBay and letting some wealthy person from like Bahrain or something that is a billionaire give me a million dollars for it," he quipped. "Then I would sell it."
Girard says only the top half is 100 years old; the bottom half may be older. He's done a lot of research on the subject and learned people used to save and reuse the bottom half of cakes years ago. He says he has no way of knowing if it's the nation's oldest cake.
We asked him about cutting it up and taking a bite. "I don't want to go too deep in there because either there's like a bad disease or there's something that'll cure any disease known to man," Girard jokingly replied.
"Well I wouldn't be eating it, that's for sure," Mary Zahasky said with a chuckle. Zahasky is part-owner of "A Piece of Cake" in St. Paul. She took a break between preparing one of hundreds of trays of Christmas cookies to chat with KARE 11. She says the cake you buy at the store can only last a couple days without refrigeration. "It's amazing it doesn't disintegrate or crumble. That it isn't a box of crumbs," she said about Girard's precious gift.
Perhaps this old, ugly-looking paper weight ringed with turn-of-the-century mints is a Christmas miracle. Girard and his friends threw the cake a 100th birthday party last week realizing that the old adage rings true: "I have a cake and I can't eat it," he concluded with a laugh.