From a reader:
Keep in mind that Mr. Derbyshire is English. During the Penal Years, English farmers used fruitcakes to conceal their unlicensed distilled spirits from
the revenuers. Ever since, Englishmen have demonstrated notable warmth (principally in the ears and nose) toward fruitcakes, even those from Holy Cross Abbey, which are not shipped pre-soaked.
I myself once ordered a Holy Cross Abbey fruitcake. It wasn’t bad, but regrettably it tasted a bit too much like fruitcake.