Home Friendship and fruitcake: How tradition has kept two buddies connected for nearly two decades

Friendship and fruitcake: How tradition has kept two buddies connected for nearly two decades

Crystal Graham
fruit cake and friendship tapley may
The infamous fruit cake, photographed in Dec. 2023, submitted

Two lifelong friends have managed to keep a holiday tradition alive for decades – gifting the same Harry & David fruitcake each year to each other.

In 2004, Emanuel “E” May, now a chef at Orchard Creek in Waynesboro, started the tradition when he bought his friend Matthew “Good Work” Tapley a fruitcake for Christmas.

May said the gift was “a joke” as he thought it would be fun to re-gift the cake each year to see how long they could keep it going.

Now 19 years later, May was the recipient of the Southern Supreme old-fashioned nutty fruitcake this Christmas.

“The joke was that fruit cakes last forever, like candy corn,” May said.

Tapley said the cake is amazingly well preserved for a 19-year-old baked good. The regifting was easier when they both lived in the same city but moving seven times in nine years certainly made the commitment more challenging.

“It was much easier when we both lived in Durham but as “E” began to move around for work, it became a little bit more challenging to keep the tradition alive,” Tapley said.

As a chef, May has pretty strong feelings about fruitcake in general.

When asked if he liked the seasonal cake, May responded, while “some people love fruitcake, that’s a hard no.”

May said receiving it yet again in 2023 was both “uplifting and hilarious.”

The tradition “is symbolic of our friendship,” Tapley said.

tapley and may 2023

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.